Business

HCAD Rebuts Charges Of Discrimination in Property Tax Hikes

O’Connor & Associates argues African-Americans are overcharged far more often than whites.

The Harris County Appraisal District is firing back over allegations that African-American home owners in Harris County are more likely to be overcharged on their property taxes.

Property tax consulting firm O’Connor and Associates is charging that home owners in primarily African-American zip codes are seven times as likely to be overtaxed as those in largely white zip codes. 

“This is having a devastating effect in the African-American community. It’s increasing the foreclosure rate of African-American homes, and it’s also causing a huge loss of wealth in the African-American community,” said Pat O’Connor, president of O’Connor and Associates.

HCAD spokesman Jack Barnett says the charges are without merit.

“We appraise property without any consideration of race, creed, color, economic circumstances,” he said. “We are required by law to appraise property at 100 percent of its market value as of January 1, and that’s what we do. We appraise property. We do not evaluate the people who own the property.”

Barnett says HCAD is heavily involved in outreach to African-American communities, attempting to make certain homeowners understand all the exemptions they’re entitled to and how to protest tax increases free of charge.

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Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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