Property owners affected by devastating natural disasters, like Hurricane Harvey, deserve significant and immediate property tax relief. Harvey dumped roughly 27 trillion gallons of water on the communities on the Gulf Coast and the resulting flood tragically claimed lives and left a trail of devastation in thousands of homes and businesses. Harvey’s catastrophic effects are visible almost everywhere; except your property tax bill. No matter how badly your home or business was damaged, you will have to pay property taxes as if there was no damage at all— that is unless local governments choose to ask county appraisal districts to conduct a reappraisal.
It is fundamentally wrong for government to profit off a natural disaster, but that is exactly what happens when there is no reappraisal of disaster-damaged properties and your values are set at January 1, 2017 conditions. The savings from reappraisals is real money back into the pockets of those that have been impacted the most, and need it the most. Galveston County Tax Assessor Cheryl Johnson calculated that a reappraisal for a $300,000 home in Dickinson that lost 50% of its value due to flooding would save the taxpayer nearly $1,300. That can help a family get back on their feet!
There have been multiple bills over the years in the Texas Legislature to mandate reappraisal of properties after a natural disaster. Just this year, HB 513 and SB 717, in the regular session, and HB 331, from the recent special session, would have done exactly that for properties which FEMA determined sustained more than 5% damage. None of the bills passed into law, of course, because so many in the legislature are much more worried about keeping government tax collections high, than helping the taxpayers themselves who have lost so much. We all pay enough rent to the government in the form of property taxes, and sadly victims of Harvey’s brutal damage to their homes, businesses, and communities are also victims of the state legislature’s inaction. Join me in, first, calling for local governments to immediately reappraise storm damaged properties, and then demanding that our Texas Legislature change the law to force reappraisal of damaged properties after disasters. As your next State Representative, I will fight to enact mandatory reappraisals and stop government from profiting off taxpayers’ misfortune!