Helping homeowners pay fair property taxes

8 Reasons to Protest Your Tax Appraisal in Texas

Property Taxes 101

It’s never fun paying taxes, even when correctly appraised. It’s even harder when you feel that some mistake has been made by the Appraisal Review Board (ARB).

Consequently, as a homeowner, you’re likely to pay more taxes than what is fair at some point. That’s a reason to protest your tax appraisal in Texas. Statistics from Dallas County in Texas reveal that about 50% of tax protests are usually successful and that those who protest typically save an average of $600. Even better, a professional company can do it for you so you hardly lift a finger.

Before you protest your tax appraisal, you should be aware that there are no state-wide property taxes in Texas, and rules of protest may slightly vary from county to county. The tax you’ll eventually pay will depend on your county of residence—and just in case you didn’t know, Texas has 254 counties, more than any other state in the nation.

Also, it’s one thing to have a legitimate reason to protest your tax appraisal in Texas and quite another to follow the correct steps of lodging a tax protest. So, you’d need to make sure that you follow the correct procedure and have a valid protest ground.

So, what are the reasons to protest your tax appraisal in Texas?

#1. Overvaluation of Property Is a Valid Reason To Protest Your Tax Appraisal in Texas

Property taxes in Texas and almost anywhere else depend on the value of your property and the tax rate. 

Let’s be honest. There’s nothing much you can do about the tax rate—unless you want to lobby your local representative to draft a bill or something on those lines. But there are reasons to protest your tax appraisal in Texas.

The person who’ll value your property in Texas is the county tax appraiser. Based on square footage, the appraiser will value your property using market rates of similar properties in the area based on square footage.

After comparing the value attached to your property against similar properties, you may see that yours appears overvalued. It’s important to note that the value that the tax appraiser uses is based on market rates as of January 1. 

Should you find gathering pricing information about your property to be a challenge, consider the following sources.

  • A real estate broker
  • A private appraiser who can value your property

If you’re completely stuck, you can get an appraiser from the Appraisal Institute.

Should you find that the value the appraiser used is significantly different from what you think your property is worth, you’ll have a valid reason to protest your property tax.

Generally, property tax protests should be filed by May 15 or no later than 30 days after the appraisal district mailed a notice of appraised value to you, whichever is later.

#2. If There Are Mistakes in Your Tax Assessment

Sometimes, you’ll realize there are some errors in your tax assessment, giving you an excellent reason to protest your tax appraisal. Some of the mistakes in your tax assessment that can see you pay more to the tax authorities include

  • Errors regarding the size of your property: For instance, your 2,400 square-feet property may be assessed as 2,800 square feet.
  • Errors regarding your land size: The larger the land size, the higher is the tax assessed. Ensure the size of your land is not overstated.
  • Errors regarding home improvements: Renovating your property or adding substantial improvements can increase the value of your property, hence more property taxes.

    Examples of significant improvements include a patio, an additional room, or a deck. Minor home improvements like replacing a carpet or remodeling a kitchen do not increase the value of your property and will not affect your property taxes.

You should file a formal, written motion with the Appraisal Review Board to start the correction process. Do this before it’s too late to be admitted or corrected, making it imperative to have tax appeal deadlines for your county at your fingertips.

Related: Property Tax Appeal Deadlines

#3. If You Have Been Denied a Legitimate Tax Exemption

Chapter 11 of the Texas Tax Code has provisions for certain tax exemptions. Of course, these will also depend on your county. However, the following are some of the most common exemptions:

  • Basic homestead exemption: The law requires the school districts in Texas law to offer up to $25,000 on residence homesteads. Aside from this, there’s also the optional residence homestead exemption, assessed at 20% of the property value that some counties give. 

This optional exemption is according to their discretion, but homestead exemption is conditional. The home must be your primary residence, and you must not be claiming homestead exemption in other states.

  • Disabled and senior citizens: People in this category qualify for an additional exemption of $10,000. The minimum age to be eligible for this exemption is 65 years.
  • Disabled veterans: If you are a veteran, depending on how old you are and the extent of your disability, you qualify for up to $12,000 in property tax exemptions.
  • Veteran’s surviving spouse: If you are a spouse of a disabled veteran, you qualify for the same exemption that your veteran spouse had before they passed away.

If you, therefore, feel that you qualify for an exemption and you’ve been denied, it is a valid reason to protest your tax appraisal in Texas.

H2: #4. When Your Property Has Been Assessed at More Than 10% of the Previous Value

When you’re looking for a reason to protest your tax appraisal in Texas, it’s important to note that assessments more than 10% of a property’s value from last year only applies to property owners who have homestead exemptions.

The law in Texas caps the increase in property values to 10% per year for those with homestead exemptions. And because property values determine the tax rate, a significant increase can see you digging deeper into your pocket.

Let’s give an illustration.

Suppose your home was valued at $450,000 in 2020, and you have a homestead exemption. The appraiser cannot value it at $600,000 in 2021, even if that represents its new value based on property market conditions.

The maximum the appraiser would value it would be $495,000 (450,000 + 45,000 or 10% of 450,000). So if you built a patio or a gazebo, you should not fear that your new assessed value will be significantly more. 

Should your property tax be assessed based on the $600,000 value and not the $495,000 value, you can appeal to the Appraisal Review Board (ARB) of your county. This can help you save up to $2,100 assuming a tax rate of 2%, or $1, 050 assuming a tax rate of 1%.

Protesting a property tax decision based on an excessive increase in price is crucial in Texas. According to the Texas Real Estate Research Center, the Lonestar has witnessed an 18.3% increase in property prices this year.

#5. Failure to Receive Notice

Your appraiser may fail to furnish you with certain notices which are required by Texas law. Some of these notices include:

  • Notice of Appraised Value: This is a formal communication by the chief appraiser to the property owner, notifying the property owner of the increase in value of the property from the previous financial period. This communication is usually mailed every year.

According to the Texas Tax Code, property owners with residence homesteads should receive this notice by April 1 or as reasonably possible. So if you failed to receive this kind of notice, you’d have a valid reason to protest your tax appraisal in Texas.

Still, the law requires the property owner to provide evidence that they failed to get the notice—and that this failure was due to circumstances beyond the property owner’s control.

  • Notice of a Property Tax Hearing: The law requires the Appraisal Review Board to issue a written notice indicating the expected hearing’s time, venue, and date. According to the Texas Tax Code, this notice should not be later than the 15th day before the hearing. 
  • Notice of the Result of an Appraisal Review Board: The Appraisal Review Board should send written notice of the results of its hearing. Depending on the outcome of this communication, you can still protest in a court of law or binding arbitration.

#6. When the Chief Appraiser Disapproves Special Appraisal for Your Property.

According to the law, lands used for farming and other agricultural purposes are appraised at values usually lower than the market rates. The intention is to provide some form of incentive to those engaged in productive agricultural activities to spur economic growth. As a result of this reduced valuation, the property owner will pay a lower amount in property taxes than he would have otherwise paid.

However, the tax authority may deny you this tax privilege for one reason or another. When this happens, and you’re convinced it’s not a legitimate reason, you should immediately get professional assistance and appeal.

While you can still do this on your own, it’ll take much of your time, and you may miss some crucial informational needle in a haystack. That’s one of the reasons you should get professional help.

Related: Definitive Guide to Lower Your Property Taxes in Texas 

#7. When the Chief Appraiser Effects a Change of Use That You Disagree with. 

Another reason to protest your tax appraisal in Texas is when the chief appraiser erroneously changes the status of your property in a manner that will make you lose out on the favorable tax terms, especially regarding agricultural land use.

The chief appraiser may effect a change of status concerning your land if they’re convinced that the land no longer qualifies for such special treatment. 

Suppose such a change of status is processed. In that case, as the property owner, you will not only pay more in property taxes going forward but will also contend with rollback tax for each of the previous three years in which the land got a lower appraisal as a result of the special treatment.

This action can set you back hundreds of dollars.

If you are convinced that the status change is not warranted and has been implemented due to some mistake, you can lodge a formal protest with the Appraisal Review Board. When making this appeal, you must provide proof in the form of any documentation that will show you did not change land use and that the status of your land should be maintained.

#8. When the Chief Appraiser Has Valued Your Property Twice

While relatively rare, your property can be listed twice in the appraisal records. This can happen because of a clerical error or some other confusion.

For instance, the chief appraiser may send a Notice of Appraised Value to you under the name of John Cash. Two days later, you receive another notice of appraised value.

However, the second notice now comes under the name of Johnny Cash. You realize that the property in question is the same.

What will happen in such a case is that you’ll be required to pay the exact property tax twice. This is one other reason to protest your tax appraisal in Texas.

But if you want to be proactive and help correct such mistakes promptly, you should be checking the appraisal records in your county to confirm that your property is listed correctly.

H2: Do You Want to Make Sure You’re Not Paying a Dime Extra in Property Taxes?

While it’s a duty to pay taxes, you should only pay your fair share —and not a dime more. The extra savings, however little, can help plug a hole somewhere else. 

While you can file the protest yourself, the tax code could be overwhelming and the procedure tedious and time-consuming. Instead, many homeowners opt to hire an expert to handle it every year for them so they can concentrate on other issues without worrying if they’re paying the correct amount of tax.

At Home Tax Shield, hundreds of Texans trust us to handle their property tax protests. There’s a reason for this. 

Our success rate stands at an impressive 83%. We’ll protest your tax appraisal better and consistently year after year. You won’t have to worry about the overvaluation of your property or even appraisal deadlines. We’ll take care of everything for you.

Sign up with us today and start the journey to potential tax savings and peace of mind.

Oct 22nd 2021

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