No property tax relief for homeowners in midst of pandemic

Bexar residential appraisals up an average 8.6%

SAN ANTONIO – Even as people lose their jobs and stand in line for food amid the COVID-19 pandemic, homeowners face another whammy: higher taxes.

The Bexar County Appraisal District is preparing to send notices of new 2020 assessments, and they are up, on average, by 8.6%.

Given the economic downturn, are the new appraisals accurate?

“The law doesn’t require us to be accurate right now. It requires us to be accurate as of January first,” said Chief Appraiser Michael Amezquita.

He says state tax code is clear: his assessments must reflect a home’s market value as it was on January 1. That’s before the pandemic shutdowns slammed the economy.

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If higher values, and higher taxes if government entities don’t change tax rates, don’t seem quite right to you, Amezquita agrees.

BCAD, as well as other appraisal districts across Texas, lobbied state leaders to freeze 2019 values for this year or apply disaster relief, but to no avail.

“I think it shows a level of insensitivity,” Amezquita said.

His office is mailing the nearly 600,000 notices to residential property owners intentionally late, waiting until the end of May.

“What I hope would happen is there is a reprieve from the state level,” he said.

There is something property owners can do - protest. Don’t expect to meet in person, though. Appeals can be filed online, by mail or dropped off in a curbside box at the BCAD office.

Amezquita expects to see a lot of protests this year.

“We anticipate seeing declines in value as the year progresses and this pandemic continues,” he said. “What we’ve been told is that it’s a 2021 issue.”

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About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.