Preparing for Your District Court Appeal

In the state of Texas, property tax appraisers have a lot on their plate, and in most cases, homes are not physically appraised each year. Instead, appraisers complete a cycle of regular assessments and make adjustments to appraised value based on details you provide and comparable properties that are assessed that year. This means they don’t always have the most detailed or up to date information to offer an exact appraised value for your home. When the appraised value of your home is far higher than the actual value or it’s unequal to similar properties in your area, you have the right to appeal the appraised value of your home to the Appraisal Review Board (ARB). Following your appeal before the ARB, you will receive a notice in writing of their decision to accept or deny your property value protest. If the decision is to deny your request to adjust your property tax value, you have a few options to continue the appeal process. One of the most common solutions is to appeal the ARB decision to the district court. In this blog, we’ll walk through what you can expect from that district court review process, and don’t forget the Home Tax Solutions team is always here if you need help with your property tax bill.

Pay Uncontested Property Taxes & Legal Fees

At this point in the appeals process, you will be asked to pay the uncontested part of your property tax bill. Specifically, if the contested value of your home is $150,000, but you believe the actually value of your home is $100,000, you will still be responsible for payment of property taxes on the $100,000 uncontested home value before the deadline in order to avoid delinquency. Additionally, you will need to pay court and legal fees related to the appeal process. 

Consult with a Tax Professional or Lawyer

If your protest is denied by the ARB, it’s time to consult with a professional. They can help you to determine whether or not you have a case for further appeal. Specifically, they’ll be taking a closer look at the reason you gave for believing your home’s appraised value was incorrect. In most cases, you’ll be arguing that the appraised value of your home was either excessive or unequal. 

Excessive appraised value is the most common. It simply means that you believe your home could not be sold for the appraised market value from the appraisal district. In most cases, these disputes are easily handled by the ARB and can be resolved without further appeals. However, there are cases where subjective elements related to fair market value of a home leave your property value experts and the appraisal district’s experts at a stale mate. When they can’t reach a mutually agreed upon conclusion, you may want to appeal the decision. 

Unequal appraisals are a little more difficult. The basic idea is simple. You are arguing that your property is appraised by different standards than other properties in the area. There are a lot of reasons this may happen, and that is where it can get complicated and why we recommend working with legal counsel. As a simple example of an unequal appraisal, say you purchased a home this year for $100,000, and your property taxes are assessed at this value. However, other similar homes in your community are valued significantly lower at $50,000 to $75,000. You may have a case to argue for unequal appraisal.

Trial Before District Court 

If you have a good case for protest before the district court, you will need to file a protest suit. In most districts, the deadline to file these protest suits is 60 days after you receive notice from your ARB. The district court will hear your evidence and that of the taxing district and provide a decision. If the court rules in your favor, you should not have to pay additional property taxes unless you failed to make a complete payment before your trial date. If the district court sides with the appraisal district or determines an appraised value higher than your estimated property value, you’ll need to pay the property taxes on this additional value. 

Work with Home Tax Solutions

If you need help covering the costs of your property tax bill at any step in the process, the Home Tax Solutions team has you covered. We can help you fit the cost of your property tax bill into your budget, so you can avoid those high penalties from the state. Out of our office locations in Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, and McAllen, we are able to service residents of all 254 counties. When you’re ready to learn more, we make getting started easy. Simply fill out our online application form, and a knowledgeable member of our team will be in touch soon.