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Dealing with the City’s new property taxes

Adapted from an original article in CPN’s paper newsletter.  Didn’t get the newsletter?  Consider joining CPN today.

For years, the City’s approach to property tax assessments was lackadaisical at best.  Then, in an attempt to address this, the City’s Office of Property Assessment (OPA) reassessed 450,000 homes across the City all at once.  Based on the new assessments, City Council will now adopt a new property tax rate and methodology by the end of June.

While some will see their taxes increase, many others will see their taxes go down.  In fact, with the right mix of gentrification relief, a report prepared for City Council found that 80% of residents in our third Councilmanic district will actually see their property taxes go down.

Unfortunately, according to a map prepared by Cedar Park resident Casey Thomas (see below), most in Cedar Park will likely see their property taxes go up.  Some by a very significant amount.

 

You should have received a letter in the mail in April with your revised assessment.  If you didn’t receive the letter, you can find the assessed value of your home by visiting the City’s AVI Calculator and entering your address.  (Note: the AVI Calculator can’t tell you what your new tax bill will be since the tax rate has not yet been determined.)

City Council is supposed to pass a budget by June 30.  At that time, we should all know what our property taxes will look like next year.  But here are four things that Cedar Park residents can do now to ease the anticipated bite.

  1. Do you disagree with your AVI assessment?  Appeal to the Board of Revision of Taxes (BRT) by October 7.  The deadline (for most people) to request that OPA re-evaluate their assessment of your home has passed.  But even if you missed that deadline, everyone who believes that your AVI assessment is wrong can appeal to the BRT.  More information on appealing the assessed value of your home can be found here.  The deadline to appeal your assessment to the BRT is October 7.
  1. Do you own the house in which you live?  Make sure you have applied for the Homestead Exemption.  The City is currently considering a proposal to exempt from taxation the first $15,000 or $30,000 of value for those people who own the homes in which they live (and it’s their primary residence).  This could mean an annual savings of up to $400.    You can file for the Homestead Exemption by calling the Homestead Hotline at 215-686-9200 or by visiting this website.  The deadline to file for a Homestead Exemption is September 13.
  1. Are you a low-income senior?  Apply for the Low-Income Senior Citizen Real Estate Tax Freeze.  If your total annual income is $23,500 or less for a single person or $31,500 or less for a married couple AND you or your spouse is 65 years of age or older, the City will not increase your real estate tax bill.  (You  may also be eligible if you are at least 50 years old and your spouse died at age 65 years old or over.)  For more information and to obtain a copy of the application, visit this website.  The deadline to apply is October 15.
  1. Are you a low-income homeowner or renter?  Apply for the Property Tax (and Rent Rebate) Program.  If your annual income is $35,000 or less for homeowners and $15,000 or less for renters (half of Social Security income is excluded), you may be eligible to receive up to $650 back from your property taxes or rent.  In addition to the income limits, you must also be 65 years of age or older OR a widow/widower aged 50 years of age or older OR a person with a disability age 18 and older.  More information on this State program can be found here, including a brochure, further instructions on applying, and the application form itself.  The deadline to apply is December 31.

For assistance with these programs, contact Councilwoman Blackwell’s office at 215-686-3418.

Cedar Park Neighbors is working to keep our community informed about these proposed changes to our property taxes. Our taxes should raise enough money for our schools, libraries, and parks.  But as City Council considers the new tax structure, it should also ensure that residents are not forced to leave the neighborhood that we love.

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