But despite the financial turmoil hoisted upon many Texans, some property owners could still face higher taxes this year.
This week normally kicks off a season of protest in North Texas during which property owners make their case for lower taxes.
But with appraisal districts closed due to stay-at-home orders, valuation letters will arrive later than usual.
The Denton County Appraisal District said it would send notices during the last week of April, while Tarrant Appraisal District pushed back its mailing date to May 1.
Collin CAD plans to mail appraisal notices for real estate properties on May 15, with business personal property notices following roughly three weeks later.
Dallas County Appraisal District has yet to announce a timetable for when it will release notices, but the website stated offices will be closed at least through April 30.
After receiving their letters, taxpayers then have 30 days to protest.
Depending on where you live, that puts the protest deadline in late May or even June.
“I don’t think any of the appraisal districts are going to have in-person hearings and everybody’s concerned about that,” said Bobby Ola, the president of Ola Tax.
Ola said most districts will conduct the protest process over the phone or online, where taxpayers can submit evidence they would normally present to a review board.
“The review boards are made up in large part of retired folks who are more at risk for COVID-19 and so nobody wants that exposure,” Ola said.
But even though the country is experiencing financial chaos, that does not necessarily mean property values will drop on paper.
Properties were appraised at market value on January 1, weeks before the pandemic hit North Texas.
“If my property values were to go up, it would have a severe impact on my family,” said Jonathan Tyler, who owns a house in Fort Worth.
Tyler said he recently lost his marketing job due to COVID-19.
He said he would like to see leaders roll back property tax appraisals or change the valuation date to a time after the outbreak.
“The less money I have to pay, the better,” Tyler said. “It would just be continued stress to make ends meet.”
Last week, the mayors of Rockwall County wrote a joint letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, asking him to roll back tax appraisals to 2019 values.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins made a similar request in late March.
“Homeowners and businesses need the help,” Jenkins wrote in a tweet. “Please enact this relief.”
The governor has yet to take formal action on this issue. “You have to weigh the need for tax revenue with the need for relief that taxpayers need right now, and that’s a hard thing to do,” Ola said.
CBS 11 News asked various districts if the chief appraiser had the power to roll back values.
“Even with great concern for the terrible circumstances many of our owners, our neighbors and Collin County families are facing today, my appraisers must approach their appraisal assignment as required by the Tax Code,” wrote Bo Daffin, the chief appraiser for Collin CAD, who said values could not be frozen by him, the district’s board of directors, or the governing body of the taxing entity.
A property owner’s tax burden relies on the value from the appraisal district, as well as the tax rate set by each taxing entity.
“In order for market values to ‘freeze’ from one year to the next, this would require a state level waiver or suspension of law,” said Carol Thornton, a spokeswoman for Tarrant Appraisal District. “The Governor’s office was asked this question, but at this time a waiver or suspension of the law has not occurred.”
A spokeswoman for Gov. Abbott’s office did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.