During the past decade, King William has witnessed how the property taxation applied to residential owners is overwhelmingly disproportionate to other properties such as commercial, institutional, industrial, amusement, and other uses. This has frustrated many King William homeowners. And the fly in the ointment: we continue to receive unfair taxation assessments, which were never properly adjusted during the housing collapse from 2008-2012. The Bexar County Appraisal District (BCAD) is not a mirror to the housing market, despite the proclamations they claim.

Why have assessed/appraised values fallen out of sync with the average homeowner? Short answer: Texas is a non-income tax state. It needs property taxation to generate the majority of its revenues. Taxing authorities use the open, imperfect, Multiple-Listing-Service (MLS) to extract sales data – even if actual sales did not occur.

Under the Texas Taxpayer Bill of Rights, we have a right to...

fair and equitable treatment. All KWA neighbors should recognize BCAD’s formulaic approach does not fit in the same way a suburban home is assessed/appraised. BCAD assumes the data is elastic and applicable everywhere; a “one-size-fits-all.” Yet, when was the last time you saw a King William home look the same as its neighbor?

Forty-seven states of the Union let go of the property- tax-revenue model citing unfair and unconstitutional safeguards in those states. According to Chris Kahn of Bankrate: “[a]ltogether, states with no income tax tend to place a disproportionately high tax burden on the poor.

Five of the no-income-tax states - Florida, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Tennessee - are ranked in ITEP’s “Terrible 10” list for unfair taxing. Texas is stuck in a partisan debate over the efficacy of the its property tax code.

Not correcting a tax assessment is like routinely avoiding your doctor for your annual physical, then being shocked to learn from your physician when a dour prognosis is announced. Homeowners should protest annually and factor this in as part of living in a no-income-tax state.

The advice of local CPA Michael Berlanga is straightforward: “[t]his burden reaches beyond the boundaries of the King William Historic District.” Berlanga, who has studied patterns of abuse, affirms that the method of Texas property taxation needs to be overhauled. It appears the system is rigged against homeowners, unless you are lucky to have a lawyer on retainer in perpetuity.

As we enter another election cycle with significant outcomes at stake, each King William resident is encouraged if not obligated, to protest property tax assessments as your sacred duty. Echoing the esteemed U.S. Federal Judge Learned Hand, “[a]nyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury.”

- Roy R. Pachecano, AIA

Roy R. Pachecano is a long-time King William resident. His short biography can be found at: arch.columbia.edu/faculty/503-roy-r-pachecano

References:

1. The author, since tracking utility power outages affecting King William from 2005 - present, has logged blackout events occurring 2.5 x per annum with brownout events occurring over 4x per annum. CPS tracking data will likely show more, not less, as the author has only tracked events affecting his street/block.

2. King William property tax assessments increased during 2008-2012 at a time when property values declined, were foreclosed, or plateaued - leaving a distinct ‘high-water mark’ in the aftermath of the Great Recession, triggered by the housing collapse. King William property rates did not recede even as residential markets declined.

3. Texas Taxpayer Bill of Rights can be found online at: comptroller.texas.gov/about/bill-of-rights.php

4. Texas Property Tax methodology places burden on homeowners. “Property Taxes: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly,”2013 by Charles E. Gilliland, Research Economist, Texas A&M University Real Estate Research Center.

5. “States with No Income Tax: Better or Worse?” by Chris Kahn, Bankrate. “ITEP” is The Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy. Read Kahn’s article at: bankrate.com/finance/taxes/state-with-no-income-tax-better-or-worse-1.aspx#ixzz4Iq3rOjTK

6. IBID, Kahn

7. Joel Nihlean, “Appraisal Woes,” March 2016, county.org/magazine/features/Pages/2016%20March/Appraisal-Woes.aspx

8. Billings Learned Hand, was a United States judge and judicial philosopher; served on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and later the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Judge Hand has been quoted more often by scholars and by the Supreme Court of the United States than any other lower-court judge.