TARRANT COUNTY (CBSNewsTexas.com) — Unexpected property tax statements that looked like bills, sent to tens of thousands of homeowners in Tarrant County who weren't expecting them, were intended to be a source of good news—not anxiety.
However, when the statements arrived with a red-outlined "Pay This Amount" listed on a payment coupon, homeowners like Mari Garza couldn't make sense of what appeared to be a bill.
"If you pay attention, you wonder, 'What the heck is going on and what are they doing?'" Garza asked.
The Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector office started sending the 2023 statements out last week to people who received over-65 and disability exemptions on their property taxes. That amounted to more than 133,000 owners, according to tax assessor Wendy Burgess.
Within that group were more than 32,000 people like Garza, who don't usually receive tax statements since the bills are paid each year by their mortgage companies.
The Euless resident said she was also well aware of issues during the past year at the Tarrant Appraisal District, with elected officials concerned about trust and transparency over the property valuation process.
Receiving a mailed statement with a lower tax burden just days after voting on a constitutional amendment on school taxes as well as local school bonds, she also wasn't confident the numbers were correct.
Burgess said Monday the decision to send the statements out was simply to try to make sure more people would see just how much lower their tax burden was this year.
"Some people don't believe it until they see it with their own eyes," she said. "And when they see it with their own eyes on the tax statement, it's a 'Wow' moment for them."
For those who pay their taxes through an escrow account with their mortgage company, the statements are not a new bill, and there is no need to do anything different from past years. With constituents regularly asking if the constitutional changes would really amount to any savings, the statements were just intended to show it on paper.
Burgess sits on the Tarrant Appraisal Board, and said she understood the issues there may contribute to some anxiety for owners who received the statements. However, she pointed out that the appraisal district and the assessor's office are two different entities, and the statements came from her office.
She also said that after having to do extensive recalculations on accounts due to the changes, her office believed the statements were all up to date and correctly calculated, although there are regular updates to individual accounts throughout the year.
Garza, whose statement showed she will end up paying almost $1,200 less this year, said she was happy about that...if she could trust the number. "I don't mind paying what's fair and what's due, I just want to be assured if it was done correctly and is it the actual amount."
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