If you’re a property owner in Texas and disagree with your property tax bill, you have the right to protest. The process can be confusing, so we’ve put together this step-by-step guide to help you. Keep in mind that there are many steps involved in protesting your property taxes, and each one is important. So let’s get started!
Why File a Protest?
Texas tax protest reviews begin with a preliminary informal meeting with an appraiser. Your home may be one of many taxed homes that never received an in-person appraisal. Many residents don’t realize that the district sending the tax bill has never sent an appraiser to find the value of their home!
According to Texas Home Appraisers, ” In most cases the ‘proposed value’ of your home is based off of a mass appraisal techniques utilized by each county appraisal district. This practice is common since no appraisal district has the manpower or time available to appraise each and every home individually To manage such a large workload the appraisal district uses a mass appraisal system based on typical property values in your area to appraise your entire neighborhood.”
In other words, if you go through the protest process, the county takes a good look at the appraised value of your home for possibly the first time.
Step 1: File Your Protest
Harris County’s iFile system allows you to submit your property value protest online. You can also file your objection in person or by mail at the Appraisal Review Board office in downtown Houston at 1001 Preston, Suite 911, Houston, TX 77002-2023.
Other counties should include information on filing your protest in your mailed “taxpayer’s notice of appraised value.”
Step 2: Preliminary Meeting with Appraiser
After filing, the first step is receiving your initial scheduling notice for an informal meeting with an HCAD appraiser. You and the appraiser will discuss your evidence and review records in an attempt to resolve the appraisal value of your home. Many homeowners find that the informal hearing is all they need to work through their issues.
However, if you don’t find common ground with the appraiser, you’ll receive an Appraisal Review Board (ARB)scheduling notice. If you never schedule with the appraiser for the informal hearing, you’ll also receive an Appraisal Review Board scheduling notice. The informal appraisal meeting is not mandatory.
If you can’t resolve the issue with the appraiser, you can schedule with the ARB for your formal hearing.
Step 3: Formal Hearing
Formal ARB hearings occur:
- In person
- By telephone
- By authorized agent
- Through a sworn affidavit
However, if appearing in person, be sure to check in at the first-floor check-in counter 15 minutes before the scheduled hearing time. If it’s a telephone hearing, you’ll receive a number to call, but ensure you’ve sent your supporting evidence to ARB ahead of time.
Evidence may include:
- CPA statements
- Certified balance sheets
- IRS returns
- Actual books and records showing acquisitions by year or purchase
- Receipts, invoices, or leases (2)
Step 4: Attend the ARB Hearing Proceedings
ARB formal hearings last for about 15 minutes and begin with introductions of their 3-person panel. The hearing continues with these steps:
- Your account number and the type of hearing
- Taking of oaths
- Panel members sign an affidavit stating that they did not discuss anything about your property before the hearing.
- Chairperson asks whether you have all exchanged your evidence for all to see.
- The appraiser briefly describes the property, the basis of the protest, and makes a statement about the value.
- Chairperson asks if you agree. If you do not, clearly say that you disagree so that the hearing will continue with the chairperson asking you to present your evidence. You need to provide four copies of all evidence you wish to contribute.
- The appraisal district shares evidence
- The chairperson may allow for examination of evidence and cross-examination of witnesses.
- Questions and closing remarks
Working with an experienced real estate attorney can help you present the most convincing evidence to win a value reduction.
Step 5: Decision Time
The chairperson will announce the panel’s 3-person recommendation. However, the Appraisal Review Board will also need to approve the panel’s decision before its final. You won’t receive the final results of your protest until the Board finishes its next scheduled monthly meeting.
If the Board does not approve the panel’s recommendation, they will allow another formal hearing before another panel. You will receive the ARB’s final decision through certified mail.
What Are My Statistical Chances of Getting a Better Appraisal Value in Harris County, Texas?
The average protest in Harris County, Texas, results in a reduction of about 12%. In other words, if your home appraised for $100,000 and you protested successfully, you could see a drop to around $88,000.
Of course, this is just an average, and your case may be different. If you have strong evidence that your home was appraised too high, you may be able to get a more significant reduction. Likewise, if the Appraisal District has strong evidence that your home was valued correctly, you may not get any reduction.
It’s important to remember that even if your property value isn’t reduced by much, it can still save you money on your property taxes. For example, if your home values at $100,000 and the tax rate is $0.50 per $100 of value, your property taxes would be $500 without a reduction. If your property value drops to $88,000, your property taxes would be $440.
Texas tax protest reviews can save you money on your property taxes, but it’s essential to know the process and what to expect before you start. An experienced real estate attorney can make a successful appeal possible.
DEADLINES TO REMEMBER:
For homestead properties, the early protest deadline is April 30th or 30 days after the date you receive the appraisal district notice of appraised value. Whichever date is later applies.
However, if you miss the new early deadline, you can protest before the regular May 15 deadline.
In the case of other real property, such as land and buildings, the protest deadline is May 15. However, if HCAD mails your appraised value notice after May 1, you may qualify for a later protest deadline.
The May 15 deadline also applies to business and industrial personal property accounts.
We Can Help
If you have any questions about Texas tax protest reviews or the protest process, contact us at Jarrett Law for answers. Our experienced attorneys can help you through every step of the process, from gathering evidence to representing you at a formal hearing. Our expertise helps uphold your rights to a fair appraisal value. Get in touch today and ensure that you get the best possible outcome for your case!