Thousands of El Pasoans file protests over tax-tied home valuation increases
More than 21,400 El Paso homeowners have filed protests over their proposed tax-related property valuations, according to data from the El Paso Central Appraisal District.
That number is projected to grow by another 1,000 to 2,000 because filed protests still are being entered into the appraisal district's computer system, said David Stone, assistant chief appraiser for the district.
The protest deadline for most property owners was May 17.
Many homeowners are protesting because of large valuation increases, which will likely bring higher tax bills. The valuations are used by taxing entities to help set property tax rates.
The only way tax bills wouldn’t increase is if officials with the city, county and other taxing entities decreased their current tax rates. A city official has said the city plans to keep its current tax rate for its upcoming budget.
The district’s appraised market value of single-family homes, which is used to determine the taxable value, increased an average 16.3% for all of El Paso County to an average valuation of $159,596 on Jan. 1, preliminary district data show.
Inside the city limits, the average market value of single-family homes increased 14.9% to an average market valuation of $162,471, the preliminary data show.
Some homeowners are seeing much higher percentage increases.
A hot home sales market and large increases in materials and other costs for new home construction increased home prices in El Paso and resulted in the large valuation increases, Stone has said.
The taxable value of a home is capped by law at an annual increase of 10% for owner-occupied homes with homestead exemptions. Many homeowners are seeing that increase this year.
However, the district's separate market valuation for a home is important because that will be used in future years to determine the taxable value increase, Stone said. So, if a home's market value has a large market value increase this year, that could cause the taxable value to increase 10% per year in the future until the taxable value catches up to the higher market value, Stone has said.
Homes with no homestead exemptions have taxable values equal to their market values.
Homestead exemptions, which reduce the taxable value of an owner-occupied home, can be applied for with the appraisal district online (epcad.org), or with a mailed-in form, and be good for the current valuation. Homeowners age 65 and older can get an extra exemption. A homestead exemption remains in place for as long as the owner occupies the home.
Property owners who protested their valuations can try to settle the dispute with an appraiser prior to having a hearing before a district Appraisal Review Board.
The settlement offer is automatically made for online protests. People who protested by mail will receive a letter notifying them of their board hearing date and the opportunity to try to settle the valuation dispute with an appraiser prior to the hearing, Stone said.
If a property owner does not accept the offer, the protest goes to one of the Appraisal Review Boards. It determines the final appraised, market value after receiving evidence and arguments from the property owner or authorized representative. The board may set a value higher than the settlement offer made by an appraiser, Stone said.
Residential protest hearings are underway and are likely to go through the end of August or later, Stone said. Commercial property protests begin in early June.
The city, county, school districts and other taxing entities generally set new tax rates in late summer for their 2022 budgets. New tax bills go out in October with taxes due Jan. 31, according to the El Paso Consolidated Tax Office.
The Appraisal District had entered 6,130 commercial property protests into its computer system as of May 25.
Commercial values remained virtually flat this year largely due to rent decreases tied to COVID-19 restrictions, and a substantial increase in valuations in 2020, Stone said.
The total taxable value of commercial properties in El Paso County increased 1.5% to $9.27 billion. The total market value is virtually identical to the taxable value for commercial properties because few valuation exemptions exist for commercial properties, Stone said.