Property tax postcards aiming for transparency cause confusion in Central Texas

Published: Aug. 22, 2020 at 2:27 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - If you own property in Central Texas--at least in larger counties like McLennan and Bell--this month you’ll be receiving a postcard from your local tax or appraisal office.

While these postcards are intended to provide more transparency with the property tax process, these cryptic cards are causing a lot of confusion among tax payers.

“The intent is to notify all the property owners in the county about a single website where they can go and find their property value, what it’s currently appraised at, and any proposed tax rates that the entities are looking at adopting,” said Joe Bobbitt, Chief Appraiser at the McLennan County Appraisal District.

A mandate resulting from SB2, the cards and accompanying website are a legislative attempt to provide more truth in taxation

“In years past, all we were required to do was send out an appraisal notice in April which had an estimate of last year’s taxes based on the previous year’s tax rate,” said Bobbitt. “And so now, you still get that currently, but by August 7th we have to send out this postcard notifying everybody in the county where they can go and see this additional information.”

Information like “who” is taxing you and “when” they’re holding hearings to potentially tax you more.

Bobbitt says his office and the county tax-assessor’s office have been receiving “lots” of phone calls about these cards, questioning their legitimacy.

“It’s not a scam and nobody is getting sued,” said Bobbitt. “It’s supposed to be just one more step trying to be transparent and open with the public.”

He says the move does illustrate their desire, and the legislature’s desire, to shift to a more online tax system, but COVID-19 was just a coincidence that fit with the web-based plan that was already in motion.

As for people who received the card with the website address but don’t have internet access, Bobbitt recommends they call their local tax office to get pointed in the right direction on how to receive the desired information.

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