Van Zandt County property owners protest tax appraisals

Homeowners are surprised after learning what the county says their property is worth.
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 9:34 AM CDT
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Canton, Texas (KLTV) - People in one East Texas county are pushing back against appraisals after receiving this year’s tax bill.

In Van Zandt County, some homeowners are surprised to learn what the county says their property is worth.

“I was shocked, I did not expect that. It immediately made me concerned and made me sick to my stomach,” Tiffany Koffel said.

Sharp increases in home values, means homeowners will pay more in taxes.

Last week, residents attended a meeting with the county’s appraisal board to express their frustration.

One of them shouted, “As long as taxation is like this the American dream is dead.”

Some, question why they lost their homestead exemptions, which give them a tax break.

Another resident, saying “We shouldn’t be attacking one another we need to figure out how to fix this system.”

In Texas, property values are determined by an appraisal district in each county, through a process that happens at least once every three years.

For Van Zandt County, the chief appraiser is Emily Reeves.

In a statement, she said the 22% increase was due to more people being able to work from home.

Also, the county operates in a mass appraisal, which means they value a group of properties using standardized procedures and statistical analysis.

Unlike a fee appraisal, which looks at individual properties and makes specific adjustments.

Some homeowners agree there was a huge upswing in the market but realtor Tiffany Koffel doesn’t believe that was the case last year.

“As a broker, I have access to the numbers, and actually year over year from 2022 to 2023 we’ve had a 23 percent decrease...So, we should not be penalized and taxed on a blip of a high market,” Koffel said.

New legislation could eventually relieve the burden for Texas homeowners.

However, Koffel says there is a more immediate solution, “protest your taxes, make a list of everything that is absolutely wrong with your property because it does affect the market value.”

All of this is happening, as the regular session of the Texas legislature, is in the final days.

Where lawmakers in both chambers are debating skyrocketing property taxes.

In Texas, people do not pay income taxes.

Instead, the state relies on property taxes to fund government services like public schools, emergency services, and road maintenance.