How the Texas Property Tax Protest Process Works

 

If you’re interested in protesting your property tax bill, you may find yourself quickly bogged down in the details. Every county sets its own property tax protest dates and requirements. This can make it confusing for property owners to even know where to begin. However, if you devote the time to understanding the process in your county, it can really pay off. Many homeowners can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year just by completing the protest process. When you protest the price of your property tax bill, you’re not actually protesting the tax rate. These rates are already set prior to sending out bills. Instead, you’re protesting the assessed value of your home. You can find out more about reasons for property tax protests and the basic process in our blog from earlier this month. There are also opportunities available throughout the year for property owners to weigh in on tax rates within their county. We’ll take a closer look at that process later this month, so don’t forget to check back to find out more about this process as well.   

The Basic Appeal Process

Below, we take a closer look at the appeal restrictions and processes in some of Texas’ most populous counties. However, in the state of Texas, your basic appeal process will include the following steps:

  • File the appeal paperwork (as part of House Bill 2, all protest paperwork is due no earlier than May 15, but counties do have some say as to the time of day, extended deadlines, and other variables)
  • Request property value information from the tax assessor collector
  • Research your home’s value
  • Informal hearing
  • Appraisal Review Board (ARB) hearing

A Deep Dive into the Harris County Property Tax Protest Process

In Harris County, homeowners have several options for filing their initial protest paperwork. Many properties are eligible for early protest by April 30 with a final deadline of May 15. If for some reason your notice of appraised value is sent from the tax assessor’s office later in the year, the application deadline may also be adjusted. Check your notice of appraised value for a specific date. The Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD) allows applicants to file their initial protest by mail or using an online system, which makes the entire process more convenient. Once your application is received, you will receive a notice either by mail or electronically informing you of the day and time for your informal meeting with the HCAD appraiser. Whenever possible, the HCAD appraisers will attempt to settle the protest during this initial meeting. You’ll have the opportunity to review your home’s appraisal information and ask any questions. 

If you and the HCAD appraiser are unable to come to agreement during this informal meeting, they’ll schedule your formal ARB hearing. Before your hearing, you’ll need to compile all of the information in support of your protest and provide four physical copies of this information to the review board during the hearing. You may also bring the information as a presentation to be projected from a computer, but you will need to provide a PDF of the documentation on a CD or flash drive for HCAD records. You’ll only have a few minutes to present your case, so you should practice your presentation in advance. On the day of the hearing, three representatives of the review board will be present to hear your case, which will also be recorded. After your hearing date, the entire review board will need to consider your case before a determination is made. The final decision will be delivered to you in writing via certified mail. In rare cases, you may receive a notice that a second hearing is required if the full ARB does not agree with the recommendation of the hearing representatives. 

A Deep Dive into the Dallas, Tarrant & Collin County Property Tax Protest Process

If you own property in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, your property will likely fall into one of three largest DFW Metroplex counties (Dallas, Tarrant, and Collin). The appraisal protest process for these counties is outlined below:

Dallas County

Dallas County allows for property tax appraisal applications to be filed either online or by mail beginning on April 15. For homes or commercial property, the deadline for application is May 15. This means you need to have your application postmarked by this date or complete the online process by midnight of that day. For business personal property, you’ll have until June 13 to complete the process. In Dallas County, the informal review process is not compulsory. Instead, you will automatically receive an ARB hearing date, and it is your responsibility to provide the necessary documentation for informal review along with your application. In some cases, an appraiser will be in touch to schedule a meeting or discuss your application. If you do not hear from the appraiser, you are able to reach out to the assessor’s office or visit for a walk-in appointment up to the day before your ARB hearing to discuss a possible settlement. 

One difference between the processes in Dallas and Harris Counties is how you’ll receive your property information. Once you submit your protest application, you’ll receive a Hearing Notification that includes a PIN number that can be used to access the information about your property on file through the tax assessor’s office website. There’s no need to submit an additional application to receive this information. Additional information will be available to explain the appraisal district’s formulas, and you’ll receive notice that this is available about 15 days before your ARB hearing. You must collect this from the appraisal district office prior to the hearing. Many people find this is a great opportunity to talk with an appraisal district representative for an informal hearing. The ARB hearing process itself will be very similar to that outlined above for Harris County. 

Tarrant County

In Tarrant County, you must submit your application either online or in writing by mail or in person. If you received an Appraised Value form this year, your final submission date will be listed. All other property appraisal protests will be due on May 15. If you’re submitting via mail, the forms must be post marked on this date. If you’re submitting online, the application is due by 5 p.m. Tarrant County does not make its ARB processes available to the public, so you will need to contact the county appraiser’s office directly or complete an online information request for your specific property in order to receive this data. Because Tarrant County doesn’t publish this information, you will need to take special care to ensure you are meeting deadlines. Many residents work with lawyers or knowledgeable real estate professionals to help them with the protest process. 

Collin County 

In almost all cases, the last day to apply for a property tax protest in Collin County is May 31 or 30 days after your notice of appraised value was mailed (whichever is later). The deadline is postponed to the next business day when the May 31 falls on a weekend or holiday. Like Dallas County, the property tax appeal process in Collin County does not include an automatic informal hearing. However, these informal hearings are highly encouraged. You can submit the application form in writing or online using the Collin County Appraisal District helpdesk function. If you can’t settle your dispute with an informal review, you’ll be scheduled for an ARB hearing, which will follow a similar format to that outlined for Harris County. 

A Deep Dive into the Bexar County Property Tax Protest Process

Like the other counties we’ve looked at, Bexar County allows its residents to complete the protest application either online or by mail. Additionally, you can visit the Bexar County Appraisal District office in person to complete and file your forms. Once the application form and/or a written letter describing your reasons for protest are received, you’ll receive a Notice to appear at least 15 days prior to your ARB hearing. This notice will also include a day and time you can visit for an informal hearing, but these meetings are not required. If you choose to file online, the informal meeting process will be conducted internally, and an appraiser will contact you with a settlement offer when applicable. If a settlement is not offered or you don’t agree with the offer, Collin County will send, by certified letter, information about the appraised value of your home and how they arrived at the value. At your ARB hearing, you should be prepared to concisely state your case for reappraising the value of your home while avoiding discussion of any non-relevant matters like the annual tax rate and other concerns. The ARB hearing process will continue as outlined above for Harris County.

A Deep Dive into the Hidalgo County Property Tax Protest Process

Hidalgo County will provide information about your specific protest application deadlines on the Notice of Appraised Value, and these deadlines will always occur on or after May 15. Hidalgo County requests that applicants use the basic Property Owner’s Notice of Protest Form 50-132 from the Texas Comptroller. You must file the form to schedule an ARB hearing. In the meantime, it’s recommended that you visit the county appraisal district office to attempt resolution informally, but these meetings will not be automatically scheduled. You can visit the appraisal office as a walk-in or call to schedule a meeting. If you can’t reach an agreement at this informal meeting, the ARB hearing process will continue as outlined above.

A Deep Dive into the El Paso County Property Tax Protest Process

In El Paso County, you may file your protest either electronically, in person, or through the mail on or after May 15. If you file electronically, your protest will be automatically reviewed, and when applicable, a settlement option will be offered that you can accept or reject. If you choose to file your protest in person, an appraiser may be available on the day you file to discuss your case and work toward settlement. If not, you’ll need to return if you wish to take part in an informal meeting prior to your ARB hearing. If you submit your protest application via the mail, you can call or drop into the office for an informal review. Otherwise, you will receive notice of your ARB hearing date and time, and the ARB hearing process will continue as outlined above.

How Home Tax Solutions Can Help

If you feel like you’ve exhausted all of your options for making property taxes more affordable, don’t forget you have one more – working with Home Tax Solutions. Because the fees associated with late payment of property taxes are so steep and increase so quickly, many property owners find themselves stuck in a cycle of endlessly accruing debt. Let us help you get out of the debt cycle. Get started with a property tax loan by completing our simple online form today. When our property tax loan specialists receive your application, we’ll review and respond quickly.