Taxpayer Education Program

It's like a shell game. . . with your dollars. The property tax system in Texas is not easy to understand, which seems wrong to me. If someone is going to take my money, they should be able to tell me why, what for, and what I can do about it.

“Why do we pay so much in property taxes in Frisco?”

Every homeowner asks this question, every year around April. The short answer is that the residential real estate market is strong and our homes are worth more today due to the popularity of the DFW area.

The City of Frisco benefits each year when your property value rises. A home worth $350,000 last year but worth $400,000 this year generates more revenue for the government. That part is easy to follow.

The rest? Not so much. Your county appraisal district decides your home’s value every spring (not the City of Frisco), and then the county tax assessor takes your money. The county keeps some and gives most of it to your city and school district (who then have to turn around and give most of it to the state of Texas). They may hand some of it to a community college if you live near one.

It’s like a shell game. . . with your dollars. The property tax system in Texas is not easy to understand, which seems wrong to me. If someone is going to take my money, they should be able to tell me why, what for, and what I can do about it.

I would like to see the city use a tiny bit of all that extra money collected each year to help inform Frisco residents about how their homes are valued, how the money gets distributed, and how they can contest their appraisals with the county office.

Every taxpayer has the right to contest their home’s appraisal value. The county assessors don’t have a great system for assessing your value. . . they freely admit1 they just guess, and sometimes make mistakes. If they “guess” too high, you get stuck holding the bill, unless you protest your appraisal before the May 31 deadline.

It would be inexpensive and easy for the City of Frisco to put on workshops in the spring, for any interested Frisco resident who wanted to learn about the process of property value assessment and protest. We already have public meeting facilities, and a communications department to help prepare materials. With residents in two different counties, the right thing to do would be to have Denton-specific and Collin-specific workshops.

Now, if you’re a cynic, you could think, “No way they’re going to help me reduce my tax bill. That wouldn’t be in the government’s best interest, they want to keep as much as they can.” I don’t agree with that. I think that City Hall benefits from a more informed resident, and as long as property values are soaring so rapidly, the least they can do is help us understand why, and what we can do about it. Remember, your city staff and officials live here too. They feel the pain of the tax bill.

(By the way, I also think the City should be sending info to new homeowners, after they close, to inform them of how to be sure they are filed correctly for the new city homestead exemption along with their state and ISD exemption. Now, that program is less than a year old so this may be already in the works.)

I believe that Frisco City Council has been more responsible than not over the years with their handling of property taxes, and I applaud the recent homestead exemption they implemented in June 2017. But, if we have the resources to do it. . .

Educating Frisco taxpayers about their rights and options is a no-brainer.


See all of Jason’s ideas for Frisco here.


 


1 Denton Co. Tax Assessor Rudy Durham said this to the Dallas Morning News on 4/22/2016.

Related Posts