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Gov. Abbott Signs Four Property Tax Bills

The Texas Capitol

Property tax reform was at the heart of the most recent session of the Texas legislature. Four key bills made it to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk where he signed them into law: 

  • SB 731, which raises the limit from $3M to $5M for a property owner to appeal an Appraisal Review Board decision through binding arbitration rather than filing a lawsuit.
  • SB 945, allowing a chief appraiser to correct an erroneously denied or canceled exemption in some cases. 
  • SB 1286, which requires the comptroller to establish rules for central appraisal districts and property owners for providing electronic copies of evidence for an ARB hearing, as well as speeds up the process of how arbitrators are selected by as much as 30 days.
  • HB 2228, streamlining the property tax process by changing certain deadlines to make the overall process more efficient. 

The four new bills are not the end of the property tax debate. Abbott has called the Texas Legislature back for a special session that is scheduled to begin on July 18.  One of the priorities he identified for the session is property tax reform and relief, such as SB 2, which passed the Senate in the regular session but did not receive a vote in the Texas House of Representatives.

SB 2 would require taxing entities to hold an election if the amount of operating and maintenance funds they plan to collect from property taxes is 5% higher than what they took the previous year. The threshold is currently 8%.

"While we did pass several bills that included useful taxpayer tools and appraisal process protections, Gov. Abbott is absolutely correct when he says there is more work to be done," said Sen. Paul Bettencourt, who authored three of the bills passed and sponsored the other. 

The special session, which amounts to legislative overtime, will continue debate on 19 items, ranging from the controversial "bathroom bill" to key "sunset" legislation required to keep certain government agencies running, like the Texas Medical Board, which licenses doctors.