On Monday, the City of Austin filed suit against the Texas Comptroller's Office over the state's ad-valorem tax system.

On Monday, the City of Austin filed suit against the Texas Comptroller’s Office over the state’s ad-valorem tax system.

The end of sales price non-disclosure might be near, if the suit filed by the City of Austin against the Texas comptroller’s office is any indication. Austin Mayor Steve Adler, who submitted the 10-page suit on Monday, argued that the ad-valorem taxation system is unconstitutional because it isn’t “equal and uniform.”

Texas is one of the few states that, instead of relying for sales figures for tax purposes, employs an appraisal system. However, with skyrocketing values for residential properties in Travis County, commercial valuations haven’t grown nearly so much. It’s becoming a big problem, the suit suggests.

“The lack of sales disclosures has made it nearly impossible for appraisal districts to comply with their statutory and constitutional duty to assess all properties at market value so that taxation is equal and uniform,” the lawsuit states.

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Be prepared for the loud cheering that will come from every car departing carpool lanes on Aug. 26 as parents throughout North Texas celebrate the first day of school. No more hearing “I’m bored!” every five seconds! No more shuttling to camps! No more packing and unpacking trunks! And of course, think of all you’ll get done during the day without a kid dragging their feet behind you!

And even though you have boxes of No. 2 pencils, Kleenex, and construction paper, no kid is really ready for school without a quiet place to do the mountains of homework they’ll be bringing home.

With the help of the kind folks Ebby Halliday Realtors for these five great built-in study nooks!

1) 603 Courtney Lane in McKinney

603 Courtney Desk

2) 435 Crestover Circle in Richardson

435 Crestover Desk

3) 3821 Purdue Street in University Park

3821 Purdue Desk

4) 5909 Genoa Court in Plano

5909 Genoa Desk

5) 1116 Danbury Drive in Mansfield

1116 Danbury Desk

A reader writes, our Tax Doctor Tiffany Hamil responds:

Dear Candy: I am confused by the age 65 homestead deal in our state. Is it the same in each county? When you turn 65 do you get a break on your property taxes or are they just frozen? I understand this is because property taxes support public schools, or at least initially they did, and the philosophy is that once we hit 65 we have no more children in the public schools. We are 60 and trying to figure out if we should remain in our home for another five years to get this benefit, or move now. Our home is on the tax rolls at $1.29. Thanks!

Obtaining an “Over 65 Exemption” does 2 things:

1. You receive an additional exemption off of your appraised value. The State mandates an additional $10,000 exemption amount for school districts, but the actual exemption amount varies not just county to county, but from taxing entity to taxing entity. Most homeowners in Dallas are in 5 different taxing entities. The exemption in Dallas could vary from $3,000 to $69,000.

2. The Over 65 Exemption also establishes a CEILING– It is a limit on the amount of taxes you must pay on your residence. If you qualify your home for a 65 and older or disabled person homestead exemption for school taxes, the school taxes on that home can’t increase as long as you own and live in that home. The tax ceiling is the amount you pay in the year that you qualified for the 65 or older or disabled person exemption. The school taxes on your home may go below the ceiling but not above the amount of the ceiling. However, if you improve the home (other than normal repairs or maintenance), the tax ceiling may go higher because of the new additions. For example, if you add on a garage or game room to the house after you have established a tax ceiling, the ceiling will be adjusted to a higher level to reflect the value of that addition.

If you are nearing age 65 and are considering relocating, it is advisable that you examine not only the tax rate, but also the exemption amounts for the future homestead. The tax tables can be obtained at the appraisal district’s website. If these tax tables look like mumbo-jumbo to you, call our office and we can assist with this analysis.

-Tiffany Hamil.