Your property tax appraisal arrived in the mail. You opened it up, and nearly passed out. Texas home values are going up, but how could your property value have increased so much? This might be great for the economy, but you’re a homeowner. Is it the best thing for you?
Now you’re mad and ready to fight. You need a simple plan that will protect your homeowner rights and lower your Texas property taxes.
Step 1 – Find Out Your Home’s Current Value
The first thing you need to know is the current value of your home. If homes similar to yours are selling for 250K and your appraisal value is at or less than 250K then you may not be able to make the case that your property value should be lowered.
To find out current value ideally you should get an appraisal from a licensed appraiser, but this will have a cost associated with it. Price will vary based on location and size of property but be thinking in the $300-$500 range.
You could get a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) from a competent REALTOR. It includes the same basic information as the appraisal, but doesn’t carry the same weight before the appraisal review board. Offer to compensate the REALTOR for their time if you choose to go that route.
If your home’s current tax appraisal is at or below its current appraised value then you probably would not win an appeal based on value. There may be an exception if your home has some major defect that negatively impacts its value, such as a foundation that needs to be repaired or a roof that needs to be replaced.
Step 2 – File Written Notice of Your Protest by April 30
You must file a written protest with your local appraisal district by April 30 to appear before the Appraisal Review Board (ARB). They have official forms, but they aren’t required. Any written notice is sufficient if it includes the following:
- Property owner’s name
- Address of property subject to protest
- Statement of dissatisfaction with a decision by the appraisal district
Once your notice is filed the ARB will notify you within 15 days of the date, time, and place of your hearing.
Step 3 – Discuss Your Protest Issue With the Appraisal Office
In some cases you might be able to resolve your issue in advance of your hearing before the ARB by discussing it with the appraisal office. Contact them directly to find out their procedure.
Step 4 – Appear before Appraisal Review Board
At least 14 days before your protest hearing you will receive a packet of information that includes a description of the ARB’s procedures. Read and follow them carefully. Arrive early for your hearing. And when it’s your turn stick to the facts.
Tip: Appraisal Review Board Meetings are public. Find out their schedule and attend one in advance to give you a better idea how the process works.
The only thing ARB members can consider is the valuation of your property. The following have no bearing on your case:
- Tax rate
- How tax money is spent
- Your thoughts on the legality of the process
Don’t waste the limited time you have before the board talking about them, or any other extraneous information not directly tied to the value of your property.
Be prepared in advance with facts, figures, and examples. This is where the information provided to you in the appraisal or the CMA becomes valuable. Print them out and make a copy available to each member. Then calmly and clearly state your case before the board and answer any questions they have.
Remember the tax appraiser will be there presenting their case as well and has access to the same information the appraiser and REALTOR have. So don’t think you can just use the lower comparable sales that support your position and ignore the higher ones. If you are excluding data from your presentation you need to be able to explain why.
If you need to talk about the condition of your home not being comparable to others then you should be prepared with pictures and estimates from licensed repair contractors.
The Appraisal Review Board listens both to you and the chief appraiser before making a decision. The chief appraiser has the burden of proving your property’s value. If the chief appraiser fails to make their case then the ARB must rule in your favor.
There are more reasons to appear before the ARB than just the value of your home. There are also other caveats you should be aware of. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts has an excellent resource, How to Protest Your Property Tax Bill, available on their site.
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