Property Taxes 101
Receiving unreasonable or incorrect Texas property appraisals can have a negative impact when your property taxes are due. If you are wondering about how to protest a property tax in Texas, your appraisal district has procedures in place to ensure that your residential or commercial valuation is fair. This process is arduous and will require careful documentation to achieve your objectives.
However, knowing what to expect can make your experience more manageable. Protesting your property taxes in Texas means that you are challenging what your local appraisal district believes your property is worth, based on several factors. A higher property value equates to paying more in taxes annually.
This in-depth article will help you understand the steps for protesting your property taxes while offering vital tips to help you effectively protest your property’s valuation.
The annual appraisal notice is often on the radar of many homeowners. Sometimes, the notice meets your expectations, and other times, the appraisal district wildly overestimates the value of your property. Unnecessarily high valuations lead to a host of problems, including an overpayment of taxes.
If you have decided to protest your Texas property taxes, it is essential to have a plan of action in place to protect your legal rights. Below, we have outlined the six main steps to follow when protesting your property taxes in Texas:
Start by filing your protest with forms provided by your appraisal district, such as Form 50-132, Notice of Protest with the appraisal review board (ARB). You may also want to draft a simple, straightforward letter to your chief appraiser.
If you have to write a letter, the letter should inform them of:
· Your intent to protest your property taxes
· Relevant property identification details
· The basis of your allegations
Remember to file your protest by the relevant due date. It is a best practice to protest your property value annually to minimize residential and commercial property taxes.
A record card exists for each property assessed in your county’s appraisal district. This record card contains vital property information, including the legal description, lot size, home square footage, and lot features. Visit the appraisal district’s office to obtain a copy of your property’s record card for a nominal fee.
Review the information contained on the card and determine if an error exists. Record errors could trigger an artificially high valuation. They also give you standing to protest your property taxes.
After filing your protest notice, the appraisal district will send you a letter that confirms the date and time of an informal and formal hearing before the ARB. Since the informal hearing is your first chance to argue your case, you can pay to have an independent property appraiser document evidence supporting your allegations.
Part of the process of protesting property tax in Texas involves meetings. The informal hearing is where you present your side of the story to the ARB. It generally lasts for 15 minutes, and the ARB will issue a decision on your protest before hearing the next case.
In many proven cases, you will receive an adjustment on your property’s valuation and subsequent tax bill. You do not have to attend the formal hearing if you resolve the matter during the informal hearing.
The formal ARB hearing involves a three-panel member board, an appraiser, and the property owner. This hearing is a more formal process and will require you to provide more evidence than you did in the informal hearing. The ARB will determine the outcome of your protest and issue a decision at that time.
This decision is non-negotiable at the hearing. If the board decides to deny your valuation, you have one final opportunity to pursue a remedy through a civil lawsuit against the appraisal district.
Litigation is your final recourse for getting the property valuation you believe you deserve. You should speak with a tax litigation attorney to weigh the cost versus benefit and protect your legal rights throughout the process. They can also help you manage expectations and a strategy that enables you to achieve a successful reassessment.
Timing is essential when protesting property taxes. If you want to avoid delays and resolve an incorrect valuation, make the process as seamless as possible by tracking when notices are due, hearings occur, and more. Get help from a tax professional if you have questions about the timeline of your protest.
Here are a few critical, estimated dates to note when protesting Texas property taxes:
· January 1: This is the day that appraisal districts use to value your property, regardless of other valuations throughout the year.
· January 31: Your October 15 tax bill from the preceding year is due.
· April 15: You should expect your appraisal notice around this date. The county will tell you how much it thinks your property is worth, and this appraisal is the number used for determining your tax bill.
· May 15: Protest property tax in Texas by this date. However, some appraisal districts give you thirty days from the appraisal notice date to file. If you missed this date due to extenuating circumstances, you would have to request an extension or wait until the following year.
· April – August: The county will schedule formal and information hearings within this period. These hearings are your opportunity to provide evidence and contest your property’s valuation.
· October 15: You will receive your tax bill around this date and due on January 31 of the following year.
It is also worth mentioning that you have a lookback period of 24 months on comps that support your property’s value. However, this rule usually applies to commercial properties since residential properties have more recent sales.
Most appraisal districts have a lookback period of up to 12 months, with some even considering future valuations. You will need to adjust these sales comparables so they compare to your specific property, but keep in mind that you will need to work with a real estate agent to get them, as the information is not readily available in Texas.
When homeowners wonder how to protest property tax in Texas, they often get a bit overwhelmed with the process. Appraisal districts utilize a reasonably complex method for valuing Texas properties, and they account for several factors that either help or hurt the value of your property. Understanding this information is vital for arguing your property tax protest and developing a strategy that achieves the best possible outcome.
Common factors appraisal districts use to value your property include the following:
· Land features
· Lot size
· Size of structures
· Structure condition
· Year Built
· And more
Consider these factors carefully when crafting your case. Each element could play a role in your improper valuation and inflate your appraisal to a number well beyond reason. Hiring a property appraiser or tax professional can help you navigate these issues while answering questions throughout the process.
The prospect of protecting your property’s taxes in Texas may sound challenging. After all, it is a legal process that you must endure to achieve a more fair and just outcome. Your informal and formal hearings will require a bit of finesse when proving your case before the ARB.
There are a few tips and tricks that you can utilize to make the most out of your ARB hearings as you protest your property tax, as outlined below.
Nothing is more frustrating than enduring a legal process. However, the savings you receive in property taxes could far outweigh the benefit. Try to keep this in mind and remain polite when dealing with appraisers, ARB members, and others throughout the process.
These individuals are trying to do a good job and can only go on the information provided. In this situation, a pleasant and calm demeanor could make the process much easier on you, especially when getting answers.
Avoid using your informal and formal hearings to complain about property taxes. These hearings are for arguing your side of the case and nothing more, and you could jeopardize your case by discussing it with the panel.
You should also not speculate anything about your home or business’s property value. Every claim that you make should have bonafide, verifiable evidence. Otherwise, the ARB may turn down your request.
Avoid waiting until the last minute to protest your Texas property taxes. Completing your protest form may take more time than you realize, not to mention the effort required to mail it or drive to the appraisal district’s office to file it. Some counties even allow for e-filing, which makes the process even more straightforward.
However, if you physically go to the appraisal district’s office, you can complete a request for their evidence against your valuation. They can send these details to you via email.
The informal and formal hearings are your best chance at getting face time with the ARB. The evidence you provide during your hearings will ultimately make or break your case. You can also challenge the evidence you gathered from the appraisal district’s office and raise the issue of correctness.
You can let them know that your original valuation notice reflected an amount that was too high. If the appraiser comes up with a different number, your argument could also include your support of the new assessment. You should also be prepared to authenticate your evidence at hearings upon request.
One of the many questions asked by the ARB is what you think your residential or commercial property is worth. Avoid coming up with an unrealistic number, but make sure you have one prepared. Simply let them know that you have researched your situation and feel that a specific number is more accurate.
It is also helpful to take pictures of your property that could negatively impact your property’s valuation. Perhaps this information was unknown by the appraisal district during its valuation period.
Close-ups and well-photographed scenes can make a compelling argument, but ARB does not care that your kitchen isn’t updated and other cosmetic issues. Instead, focus on major issues with your property.
You do not have to cancel the formal ARB hearing if you are unsatisfied with the valuation. If they did not lower your value enough, take the time to go to your formal hearing. You will at least have a second chance to explain why you believe your valuation is incorrect.
The most proactive way to save money on property tax bills is by staying on top of it. Much like we give our homes a spring cleaning, you should anticipate the property appraisal appeal process as if it could occur every year. That way, you hold your government accountable for its promises to citizens while ensuring that you are not paying too much for taxes.
At this point, you should have a solid understanding of how to protest property tax in Texas. This process is time-consuming and needs careful case management practices. However, you could end up with a much lower tax bill if you execute a strategic plan effectively.
Property tax experts have the knowledge, resources, and tools to help you save time and money. As today’s technological world advances, you can leverage automation and insights to help you with an annual tax review. This option also ensures that you pay a fair amount every year with little intervention on the property owner’s part.
Work with a property tax expert to handle your protest in Texas from start to finish. They will help you make the most of your situation while providing valuable insight throughout the process. Sign-up today in just minutes.
Nov 12th 2021
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