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Texas Congressional Delegation to request property tax freeze

8 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago Tuesday, May 12 2020 May 12, 2020 May 12, 2020 8:35 PM May 12, 2020 in News - Coronavirus Pandemic

A letter from the Texas Congressional Delegation will be sent Wednesday asking Texas Governor Greg Abbott to freeze property valuations.

The combination of rising property taxes and a destabilized economy by the coronavirus prompted Congressman Vicente Gonzalez and nine other congressional members from Texas to ask for a moratorium on property taxes across the state.

 "The undersigned members of the Texas Congressional Delegation ask you and the Texas State Legislature to suspend any raises, interest and penalties on Texas property taxes for the current taxable year. Additionally, the last thing our fellow Texans need is a change in property appraisals leading to an increase in property taxes," the letter states.

"A lot of people have had property tax increases based on data from last year. And, it's just not a true reflection of the reality we're living in today," Gonzalez said.

The request could leave the county facing a deficit. Gonzalez proposes using funds from the proposed Heroes Act.

Democrats has introduced a stimulus package that earmarks about $490 million for Hidalgo County and about $4 million for Brooks County. Several other Rio Grande Valley cities are also slated to receive funds including McAllen, Edinburg, Weslaco, and Pharr. Congress will be voting on this bill on Friday, according to Gonzalez' office.

He hopes these funds will help cities and counties with less than 500,000 residents who did not meet the population threshold set by the Department of Treasury in the CARES Act. "We want to try to make sure that those funds fill in those revenue gaps that municipalities and counties are having across the state, and not pass that burden to property owners, homeowners and apartment owners because I think it's unnecessary."  

Locally, the Greater McAllen Association of Realtors also sent a letter Tuesday to the Hidalgo County chief appraiser, judge, commissioners and other leaders throughout the county.

"The increase in valuations are coming at a time when we have seen so many property owners struggling to pay their bills and feed their families during this difficult and devastating pandemic. The deadline for protesting property values for 2020 is May 15. Therefore time is of the essence," the letter stated.

Commercial properties present a special challenge, the association contends.  "The value of a restaurant, hotel, shopping center, etc. is based on the income it produces. We believe that 2020 and into 2021 most of these properties will be greatly impacted. If a business has been forced to close, the property owner could argue that their taxes should be reduced or deferred altogether."

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