Protest and Appeals
Personal property used for the production of income must be rendered annually and is subject to property taxes in Texas. All real property and personal property is to be appraised at 100% of its market value on January 1 of the tax year. Property tax exemptions such as the homestead exemption for homes and the Freeport exemption for business personal property can reduce the burden of Texas property taxes. Real property does not have to be rendered but personal property must now be rendered annually by April 1, although taxpayers can obtain a 30-day extension by asking for it. This document was prepared by the Texas Comptroller and is presented for your convenience.
Q: What rights do I have if I disagree with an appraisal district action?
A: If you disagree with the appraisal district’s value or any action of the appraisal district about your property, you may file a protest with the appraisal review board (ARB). In most cases, you have until May 15 or 30 days from the date the appraisal district notice is delivered – whichever date is later.
Most appraisal district offices will meet with you informally to review your protest to try to solve problems.
After filing your protest, you will receive written notice of the date, time, and place for a formal hearing with the appraisal review board. At the formal hearing, the ARB listens to both the taxpayer and the chief appraiser. The ARB’s decisions are binding only for the tax year in question.
Q: What are some helpful hints when protesting to the appraisal review board (ARB)?
A: Below are suggestions to prepare for your protest before the ARB.
- Ask one of the district’s appraisers to explain the appraisal.
- Check the appraisal to make sure the property description and measurements of your property are correct.
- Check the appraisal to see if it accounts for hidden defects-for example, a cracked foundation or inadequate plumbing. Evidence of a hidden defect could be a photograph, or a statement from a builder or independent appraiser.
- Ask the district for the appraisal records on similar properties in the area-to learn if similar properties are treated equally.
- Consider using an independent appraisal by a real estate appraiser. Insurance records are often helpful.
- Get documents or sworn statements from any person providing any sales information.
- Use sales of properties that are similar to the subject property in size, age, location, and type of construction.
- Use sales that occurred closest to January 1.
- Weigh the cost of preparing a protest against the potential tax savings.
- Ask the appraisal district to see and inspect all information it used to set the value of your property. The appraisal district must give you the opportunity to inspect information, even if the information would normally be considered confidential.
- Ask to inspect and obtain a copy of the data, schedules, formulas, and any other information that the appraisal district plans to introduce at the hearing. The law requires the appraisal district to allow you the opportunity to inspect during the 14 days before the protest hearing.
Q: When will the appraisal district notify me about the protest hearing?
A: The district must notify you 15 days before your hearing of the date, time, and place of the hearing. At least 14 days before the protest hearing, the district must send you a copy of Taxpayers’ Rights, Remedies & Responsibilities; a copy of the appraisal review board procedures; and a statement about your right to inspect information. You have the right to inspect and obtain a copy of the data, schedules, formulas, and any other information that the chief appraiser plans to introduce at the hearing.
Q: Must I appear in person to present a protest?
A: When protesting, you may appear in person, send someone to present the protest, or send a sworn affidavit containing the property owner’s name, the property’s description, and the property owner’s evidence or argument specifying the appraisal district or review board determination you are protesting. The appraisal district and the Comptroller’s office has an affidavit form (50-133 Affidavit for Protest Hearing) available to use, but you need not use this form. If your letter contains all the items listed above, then you may have your letter notarized and send it to the ARB.
If you send someone in your place, you must give written authorization to the person to represent you before the review board. You must use an Appointment of Agent form, available from the appraisal district or Comptroller’s office. No form is necessary if you are designating an attorney, mortgage lender, employee, or a person who is simply acting as a courier.
Q: I work and its difficult to attend a protest hearing during the day, Are hearings held at night or on weekends?
A: The appraisal review board must provide hearing times for protests in the evening or on a Saturday or Sunday. You should contact the appraisal district to see when these hearing times are available.
District Court Appeal and Binding Arbitration
Q: What if I disagree with the appraisal review board’s (ARB) determination?
A:Once the ARB rules on a protest, it sends a written order by certified mail. If you are dissatisfied with the ARB’s findings, you have the right to appeal its decision to district court in the county where the property is located. Before filing, you should consult with an attorney to determine if the case is a good one. Within 45 days of receiving the notice of determination from the ARB, you must file a petition for review with the district court. You also must make a partial payment of taxes-usually the amount of taxes that aren’t in dispute-before the delinquency date.
As an alternative to filing an appeal to district court, you have the right to appeal through binding arbitration. You may seek binding arbitration of an ARB order determining a protest on real property if:
- the appraised or market value, as applicable, of the property as determined by the order is $1 million or less; and
- the appeal does not involve any matter in dispute other than the determination of the appraised or market value of the property.
Within 45 days of receiving the notice of determination from the ARB, you must file a request for binding arbitration with the appraisal district and include a $500 deposit. The district will forward the deposit and application for arbitration to the Comptroller. The Comptroller will submit to you and the appraisal district a list of registered arbitrators who can hear your case so you can mutually choose an arbitrator. If you and the district cannot agree on a particular arbitrator, the Comptroller will randomly select one for you.
If the arbitrator’s value decision is closer to the value you claim to be correct, then $450 of your $500 deposit is returned to you, and the appraisal district pays the arbitrator’s fee. The Comptroller will retain $50 to cover administrative costs. If the arbitrator’s value decision is closer to the appraisal district’s value, then the arbitrator’s fee is paid from your deposit and any balance is refunded to you.
Late Filed Protests
Q: Can I protest an appraisal district’s action after the deadline for filing a protest has passed?
A: Under specific situations, you may protest after the normal protest deadline.
- You may protest failure to receive a notice that the appraisal district or appraisal review board (ARB) was required to send you. You must file this protest before the delinquency date and you must not allow your taxes to go delinquent.
- You may protest that the appraisal district appraised your property at least one-third higher than its market value. You must file this protest before the delinquency date, and you must not allow your taxes to go delinquent. You may not protest late for this reason if the property was subject to an earlier protest for the year.
- You may protest for the correction of a clerical error, multiple appraisals, or including property on the appraisal roll that should not have been included. This type of late hearing protest may include the current year and the four previous tax years.
- You may ask the chief appraiser to agree to do a “joint motion to correct.” If both the chief appraiser and you are in agreement on the late change, then the ARB will approve the change.
If the ARB rules in your favor, it will instruct the chief appraiser to notify the taxing units about the change. If you paid the taxes, the taxing units will send you any refund for the change on the appraisal roll for your property.