As the holiday season is over and you’re setting your New Year’s Resolutions, you may want to add “protest my property taxes” to your list of resolutions. In the past year, big legislative changes have taken place that should offer Texas property owners some relief from the quickly increasing annual property tax bills. Unfortunately, these changes won’t take effect until next year’s tax bill, and even with the changes in store, your bill may still be too high. In the state of Texas, property owners have resources and rights to appeal the assessed value of their property to ensure they receive an appropriate property tax bill. If you’re frustrated with a quickly increasing property tax bill, a protest may be your best option.
Reasons for Protest
Even though there are potential savings in the thousands for property owners who protest their property tax bills, few people actually take the time to complete the protest process. The most important thing to remember is that you’re not really protesting the tax rates themselves. Once you receive a tax bill, these rates have already been determined by local legislative bodies. Instead, a property tax bill protest occurs when the value of your home is not accurately represented by the appraiser’s valuation. If you’re considering a property tax protest to lower your annual bill, you’ll need to take some steps to determine whether or not your property tax bill could be lowered through a protest. Some of the reasons why homeowners can protest their property’s taxed value include:
- Inaccurate property description – make sure to review the description of your home provided by the tax assessor’s office. Look at the number of rooms, bathrooms, garage spaces, etc. If you notice any discrepancies, you should make sure these are updated by the tax assessor’s office. “
- Over-assessed property value – one result of inaccurate property descriptions is an over-assessed property value. If the assessed value of your home is higher than what you believe it could reasonably be sold for, you should protest your property tax bill on these grounds.
- Didn’t receive your exemptions – if you applied for and were granted property tax exemptions, these should be reflected in the assessed property value on your annual tax bill. If you don’t believe these exemptions have been taken, this may be grounds for a property tax bill protest.
- Special issues – following a natural disaster, flood, fire, or other issues that impact your home’s value, a property tax appeal may be necessary to ensure your home is appropriately valued on your property tax bill.
How to Protest
If you determine you have a reason to protest your property tax bill, you’ll need to follow a number of steps laid out by your appraisal district. While each district does set its own specific procedures, the basic process is the same throughout Texas:
- File your protest paperwork with the appraisal district. Deadlines used to be more flexible, but new statewide legislation states that the deadline must fall on or after May 15.
- Request a copy of your appraisal district’s record card for your property. In some counties, this information is automatically requested as part of your protest application form. In other counties, you’ll need to file a separate request.
- Research the value of your property. To ensure the assessed value matches what your property could reasonably be sold for, you should look at recent sales records, talk to realtors, and take other steps to ensure the value is reasonable.
- Attend an informal hearing. During this meeting, an appraiser will review your information and determine whether or not a lower assessed value settlement can be offered.
- An Appraisal Review Board (ARB) hearing will be set. During this hearing, your case will be reviewed by a small group of assessment district agents if a staff appraiser does not agree with your request to reassess property values. After the hearing, the full ARB will review your case and deliver their findings.
- Take legislative action. If you are unable to reach an agreement with the ARB, you can file a lawsuit through the county.
Let the Home Tax Solutions Team Help
Even after a property tax protest, you may find that your annual bill is still higher than your available funds. The Home Tax Solutions team is here to help you fit the cost of treatment into your budget. If you want to learn more, fill out our online form. Once we receive your application, our team will have all the information we need to help you fit your property tax bill into your budget.