State Sen. David Sessions (R-Grand Bay) will file legislation in the upcoming legislative session capping how much property values can be increased on annual reappraisals. 

Sessions told 1819 News in a recent interview the legislation was a reaction to the increased property tax bills homeowners and business owners have been receiving in recent years from reappraisals.

Housing and property values have increased substantially in many parts of the nation and state due to the pandemic, inflation, supply chain disruption and more Americans migrating to the southeastern region of the country.

Sessions said, “A small increase yearly you could weather those storms but the 10% to 15% increases every year for two or three years in a row, that can get a little burdensome.”

“I just feel like we need to do something to protect homeowners and businesses from getting sticker shock when they get their property tax bill in from one year to the next. The amount..do you cap it at a 4% increase, a 3%, 5%...where that number is we’re still working on that. Trying to figure that out, but for someone to have a home and being paying one rate and then all of a sudden the assessment doubles on them and they get that bill in the mail and property taxes are one thing if you don’t pay them you stand a chance of losing your property over delinquent taxes. That annual appraisal, I understand I guess why they did it but still it can be difficult on our taxpayers,” he added.

Alabama has the second-lowest property tax rate in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation. However, according to Zillow’s Home Values Index, home values in Alabama increased by about 39% from $156,339 to $216,564 from December 2019 to December 2023.

Sessions said, “This is a piece of legislation that a lot of my colleagues are interested in.  I know Lt. Gov. Ainsworth is very, very interested in this.”

“If you’re allowing an increase but you’re capping it I don’t see where it will draw a lot of opposition. Anytime you step onto somebody’s territories revenue commissioners and counties they may have a little bit of heartburn over it. I feel like it’s something we need to do. It’s something that, you know, kind of the American dream is to own your own home and when young couples are able to go out there and buy their own home and they have young children and they’re paying for all the day-to-day expenses that go along with it. It’s difficult if they have a $400 tax bill this year and next year it’s $800, that can really hurt. We just want to throttle that back and allow an increase but make sure it’s measured. They’re reappraising these properties and increasing your taxes and it’s not a vote of the people or a vote of the legislature even. It’s just on their appraisal and we want to make sure that taxpayers are protected,” he continued. “We all have to pay property tax and even if you’re renting a place to live. That owner is being assessed and they’re more than likely passing that along in the rental rate so I think it’s something that affects everyone. I believe that it would have some bipartisan support. Now, can I guarantee that? I don’t know, but I’m certainly hoping so.”

UPDATE: After publication of the story, Association of County Commissions of Alabama executive director Sonny Brasfield told 1819 News, “This issue has been discussed from time to time, however, we have not seen specific language for the upcoming session. This is a very complicated issue and needs detailed review before we can formulate a position on behalf of Alabama’s county governments. It is important to recognize that Alabama’s ad valorem tax rates are among the lowest in the nation and the inflationary challenges facing every taxpayer’s pocket book are also directly attacking county budgets. It is in everyone’s best interest that we strike a balance between being efficient and being realistic.”

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