Citizens should be involved in the initial appraisal process, not just protests.
Texas’ appraisal system allows government officials and others who serve on local taxing entities to have direct or undue influence over the initial appraisal process, which is a clear conflict of interest.
Under current law, citizens serve on independent appraisal-review boards. But these boards are only relevant to the small minority of property owners who have the time, resources, and expertise to effectively contest their appraisal.
While commercial property owners have lawyers and real-estate experts to routinely and effectively challenge their appraisals, the average taxpayer does not. As a result, the overwhelming majority of residential taxpayers do not contest their appraisal.
The result is unjust inequity in the appraised values between comparable properties, resulting in inconsistencies between taxpayers with similar properties who pay the same tax rates.
Citizen-involvement in the initial appraisal process would help to prevent collusion between the institutions that appraise property and those that set tax rates.
Texas already has independent, citizen-led appraisal-review boards to hear protests. But qualified citizens should also determine appraisals in the first place—not people appointed by or who serve on taxing entities.