The Dallas Morning News reports that only 7 percent of homeowners challenged their 2006 appraisals. Although 54 percent of protesters got some relief, Richard Whittle was denied when he challenged the increase of his one-story Garland house by 67 percent to $135,490 in 2006.

Jeri Arbuckle of the Dallas Homeowners League told the paper that many people are unable to get the time off from work to
protest and some don’t understand that they have to bring evidence to their hearing such as photographs, sales data, damage estimates and repair receipts.

Another problem highlighted in the article is that in gentryifying neighborhoods like Oak Cliff and Lakewood, some houses are being torn down and replaced with mansions, while others are in disrepair with no updates having been made in half a century. Because the new homes are the ones selling, the values set by the apprasial district are skewed too high. This particularly impacts long-time residents, many of who are low income, elderly, and/or minority.

Oak Cliff resident Nancy Ann Chartier had the appraised value of her 1,500-square-foot Oak Cliff house built in 1930 increased 55 percent in 2006 to $139,000. However, she protested and got it reduced to $95,000.

All of this goes to show that the property tax appraisal system is often random and unfair – that is virtually guaranteed since there are only 93 appraisers for all of Dallas County and every property is different. So appraisal districts essentially resort to artificially raising appraisals knowing that protests will bring them down. That means there are widely disparate results based on who protests and who is on the review panel for that protest.

Surely, there is a better way, like State Rep. Phil King’s plan to abolish property taxes. Taxes are a necessary eveil, but they should be low and fair, not a roll of the dice.

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