By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

For most North Texas homeowners, the 2018 tax statements started coming out last week. You may not have received your bill in the mail, but your tax bill is out and due for payment by Jan. 31.

Simply go online and search for your county tax assessor to get your statement before it arrives in the mail. For Dallas County, you can find your statement here.

You’d think property tax bills would be fairly direct: “Here is the property address, here is the tax bill.” But these are government entities. So, let’s see how complicated it really is.

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Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins

That headline is not entirely accurate now, because, after Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told me this morning that no one has signed up to speak on lowering the tax rate, I signed up. But others should, too. As I told him, most taxpayers will likely be at work — in their offices, in the courtroom, in the hospital — making money to pay those higher taxes.

Why is it so important to attend tomorrow’s meeting? As we told you last week, property taxes are way up and have hit everyone, particularly moderate income level wage earners, particularly hard this year. Home values may have increased, but that doesn’t help you unless you are selling and moving to a less pricey area. State law prohibits the annual rise in taxable property values from exceeding 10 percent for homeowners who claim homestead exemptions, that is, who live in their homes. If you have investment properties, you will pay through the nose and probably are. And you, like me, will likely raise the rent to cover.

Which means: this is the bottom rung in making housing ever more untouchable, unaffordable.

That is what Judge Jenkins told me this morning as we talked about tomorrow’s meeting: (more…)

John Wiley Price's Home at 406 E. 5th Street in North Oak Cliff

John Wiley Price’s Home in North Oak Cliff

Get out the smelling salts, you surely are going to faint: Dallas County Commissioners, SOME Dallas County Commissioners, are asking for an 8% pay raise, netting them $157,000 a year (up from $145,474 currently) because the county is flush with money from the property taxes we are all paying through the nose for, thanks to our beefed up values. They are also asking for pay raises for county judges, sheriffs, tax assessor, treasurer, constables, district clerks, county clerks and justices of the peace.

I am just amazed. And guess who says he needs it the most because he works so hard, seven days a week?

Commissioner John Wiley Price, the one Commissioner accused of taking bribes from county contractors, who is facing a federal corruption trial in February, and whose legal defense counsel the state is paying for (he must contribute $80,000) because he “couldn’t afford it.” The DCAD market value on Price’s North Oak Cliff home is $169, 420. He pays $4645.22 in total taxes, $428.80 to Dallas County.

(Price has denied the corruption charges. The FBI surprise raided his home in June of 2011.)

“I work seven days a week,” Price said. “I’ll put my work ethic up against any of my colleagues, here or anywhere else.”

This is just so typical, the way government largess works: they get more money, and whose pockets get lined first?

How about returning it to the taxpayer?

Or what about so many other things that could be done with that money besides fattening one’s own bank account? How selfish can these people be when there are thousands of homeless people in Dallas, including 3600 children?

Who else can have a job where they can vote themselves a raise and stick their hand in the cookie jar anytime they fancy?

Answer: a Dallas County Commissioner.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins has a brain, and a heart: (more…)

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I knew there was a good (well, in this case, terrible) reason, because John is, as I said, one of best Tax Appraisers/Collectors we have ever had. Under his watch the office has become much more efficient, the clerks are friendly and polite, and well, maybe he ought to interview for the new management job available over at Dallas City Hall.

Ames 8

I tried calling John at the Tax office yesterday five times, never could get through because everyone was (probably) calling about their property taxes. May 31 was the last day to protest appraisals. Some tax consultants tell me they were getting calls at 2 and 3 in the morning. People sometimes confuse the Central Appraisal District office with John’s office down on Elm. He does not oversee appraisals, he administers the Tax Collectors office.

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2083-parkland-hospital-2997

Heads up: Parkland is looking for money to fund that new building that was approved by the taxpayers in 2008. (Personal note: I voted against it.) This despite the implementation of Obamacare. There is simply not enough money coming in from state and federal funding: (more…)

May means great weather, less sneezing, and, in North Texas Real Estate parlance, time to grit our teeth over home appraisals. Property tax appraisals went out Friday, so this coming week we should be getting the hard, cold news about property taxes. Dallas rates have gone up. Property values have gone down. Will the Appraisal District reflect this in our bills or look the other way to sop up much-needed revenue?

Do you anticipate your property taxes will go up or down?

Couple things: Jim Schutze over at the Dallas Observer had an interesting article this week on taxes, and the mayoral candidate’s rhetoric that we need to expand the business tax base in Dallas. For what? (To lower our property taxes is the assumption, I guess.) Schutze was another journalist getting hoarse shouting, for the 300,000th time, the inequity that the property tax burden in Texas weighs on the shoulders of homeowners rather than commercial property — I agree:

“What is this crap about the importance of attracting more businesses to the city? They throw it out like a line from the Bible or something — especially mayoral candidates Mike Rawlings and Ron Natinsky. Got to “grow that tax base.” Only way we can grow that tax base is by attracting more businesses, they say.”

The real growth in this city in the last 10 years, he says, has been in residential, which has risen almost 65 percent. Commercial real estate values are up only 31 percent. In 2000, he says, residential was 40 percent of the total tax base. In 2010, it was 47 percent.

“Part of the problem with commercial, of course is that the values at which commercial properties are taxed are often substantially below market values. For whatever reasons (and I think I know what some of them are), the Dallas Central Appraisal District seems to like to low ball commercial values.”

I have long wondered why the tax base has not improved from the flourishing, expanding downtown. The reason is that commercial real estate pays less in taxes. Some argue they should, because businesses use fewer city services — which is news to me. Last time I looked, business created way more waste. But apparently this year, commercial is going to see rates go up.

According to the Dallas County Appraisal District, about 12 percent of residential property values will increase this year, very similar to last year,  according to spokesperson Cheryl Jordan via the Dallas Morning News. But oh boy get ready: more commercial properties will increase in value this year than last. Last year, 4,500 commercial properties had value increases, and this year that number will jump to 22,135.

DCAD anticipates just 23 percent of residential properties will lose value, compared with 34 percent last year.

So you know what that means: our Tax Doctor is back! Tiffany Hamil Mackey will be here to answer your questions as you get your tax bill. I was talking to her last night about what she thinks is coming down the pike, and she thinks the city may decrease land values while increasing improvements to keep appraisals the same. In other words, if your property is valued at $500,000 with $100,000 on improvement and $400,000 on land value, she thinks that they will reduce land to $200,000, but increase improvement value to $300,000 to preserve revenue. This means that the total value of your home goes unchanged, but suddenly your improvement just increased in value 300% in one year?!??! Who’s playing games here?¬† She‚Äôs already noticed whole blocks of areas in Preston Hollow subject to this exact situation.

Even if your taxes have stayed the same, Tiffany says you should fight. So get ready, the Tax Doctor is IN!