This year, Texas property owners are receiving abnormally high valuations from county appraisal districts across the state. According to the Texas Comptroller’s office, property owners who are dissatisfied with their appraisal value have the right to file protest. For anyone unfamiliar with the process, O’Connor, an expert in property tax consulting and appraisal services, has outlined step-by-step instructions for protesting property taxes.
- To file a protest, call or check online with your appraisal district to determine the deadline. The deadline for most property owners in Texas is May 15.
- Protest both market value and unequal appraisal.
- Request the appraisal district to provide copy of hearing evidence by U.S Mail, or it may be available online.
- Property owners must file protest to obtain appraisal district hearing evidence on market value and unequal appraisal.
- Requesting appraisal district hearing evidence often provides evidence of a reduction and also limits what the appraisal district can present at the hearing (only what hearing evidence provided to owner / agent 14 days prior to the hearing.)
- Prepare for informal hearings:
- Obtain hearing evidence.
- Review the County Appraisal District’s (CAD) description of house versus actual. Does the CAD overstate the quality or quantity of improvements?
- Do comparable sales (from hearing evidence package support a reduction. Some appraisal districts provide all neighborhood sales and others provide ~five selected sales.
- Prepare an analysis based on unequal appraisal.
- Attend informal hearing – connect with the appraiser. Goal is to reach agreement on reduction at the informal hearing. Appraiser did not set your value and likely does not care how much you pay. They simply want to work with you to settle if possible based on the facts and negotiation. Appraisal districts prefer to settle at the informal hearing where they pay one person versus at the appraisal review board (ARB) where they pay 4 or 5 (appraiser, 3 ARB members and possibly a clerk)
- Decide whether to accept the informal offer; may be less successful at ARB; seek guidance.
- If you settled at the informal level, you are complete for the year. Otherwise, you have available the formal / ARB and the judicial vs binding arbitration levels.
- Prepare for the ARB. Offer information regarding why a lower level of value is appropriate. Pictures of deferred maintenance can be quite helpful in disputing the appraisal districts records. Comparable sales in the neighborhood with a favorable sales price are great evidence. Finally, prepare assessment comparables. These are properties similar in locations, size, and age, and have a more favorable assessment per square foot.
- Attend the ARB. Bring five copies of all evidence: 1) 3 for ARB members, 2) 1 for appraiser and 3) 1 for you. As an alternative to hard copy, you may provide a thumb drive for your evidence and display it via computer screen.
- Be polite with the ARB members. Chitchat is OK. They are working people. Present your case with a smile. Be prepared to be upset with the result but never react.
- Review the result from the ARB. How favorable or unfavorable is the ARB value compared to care review of your evidence and the appraisal districts’ evidence. You are at a decision point: 1) for most owners a judicial appeal or binding arbitration are available.
- Benefits / disadvantages of binding arbitration. – No attorney is required. No discovery. Quick resolutions. Appraisal district decisions by staff they can make decisions. Deposit of ~$450 to 1,500 depending on property size with $50 fee to Texas Comptroller to process the filings. The loser pays fee if case not settled. More appraisal districts settle than go to hearing. Do not need expert reports that can cost thousands of dollars. No right to appeal except in quite limited cases.
O’Connor is among the largest property tax consulting firms in the United States, providing residential property tax reduction services in Texas, Illinois, and Georgia, as well as commercial property tax reduction services across the United States. O’Connor’s team of professionals possess the resources and market expertise in the areas of property tax, cost segregation, commercial and residential real estate appraisals. The firm was founded in 1974 and employs more than 600 professionals worldwide. O’Connor’s core focus is enriching the lives of property owners through cost effective tax reduction.
Property owners interested in assistance appealing their assessment can enroll in O’Connor’s Property Tax Protection Program ™ . There is no upfront fee, or any fee unless we reduce your property taxes, and easy online enrollment only takes 2 to 3 minutes.
For more information visit https://www.poconnor.com or call 713-290-9700.