Many people are by now getting their property tax appraisals from their respective districts. Some are finding these appraisals to be incorrect based on what they paid for their home, or even compared to neighbors’ homes, leaving them to ask, “What can I do about this?” You can protest! No, not like you picture typical protests with banners, marching and yelling; but you can file a protest with the district stating you think their appraisal is incorrect in the hopes of getting your appraisal lowered, and thereby lowering your taxes. You can file online; if they deny your request, you can request a formal hearing.
Property tax appraisals are made as of January 1 of each year. The statutory deadline for filing written protest is May 31 of each year. Your property tax appraisal is required by law to be at 100% of market value AND be equitable in comparison to the tax appraisals of similar properties. Look for the “Appraised Value” on the Notice. Compare the Last Year total appraised value to the Proposed This Year total appraised value; if it’s increased more than 10%, call the Appraisal District and find out why. Be prepared. The district bases its numbers on a median level of value. They take aerial photos, street views (thanks to Google) and any publicly-available photos. So, you should have evidence to back up your request in the form of photos showing anything that might lower your value (broken fence, cracked foundation/driveway, flooding, or torn up for remodel). Pictures are best taken as close to January 1st as possible.
Once you file a protest, you should request the district must provide you with, an evidence packet at least 14 days before the hearing. Incidentally, if they present something not in the packet, you can refute it. You can file a protest based on Market Value (appraised based off the comparables) or Equity (appraised the same as all the others).
Here’s the quick skinny on how to proceed with a protest:
1. My number 1 suggestion is to contact a professional. The district has gotten much better at dealing with protests. They use professionals, including realtors, so you should, too. A realtor will be able to either help you through the process, or know someone you can hire, like a tax consultant. This is a time when you should probably have someone in your corner to help you. A realtor can also provide you with a valuable Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), most of the time for free. The CMA will show what other homes in your immediate neighborhood, as similar to your home as possible, have sold for. You can use this to compare with the evidence packet the district provides you.
2. Make a copy of your evidence for each member of the Appraisal Review Board (ARB), which is usually 4-5. Also, put your Quick Reference ID (6-digit PID#) on each of the packets.
3. When you are called up, you present your case. Be polite, have a good attitude, even let them know this is your first time and you apologize for not knowing the correct protocol. Smile. These people hear people complain all day long for weeks. A smile can go a long way to get them open to hearing your side. DON’T talk about taxes or price per square foot. These items are irrelevant, and they will move right on to the next person. You want to talk about VALUE of like and similar properties.
4. The District will then present its case. If they present anything new, you can respectfully refute it. If they say something confusing, you have all the right to, very humbly, ask them to repeat or clarify. A lot of times they try to sound like they are more knowledgeable and professional by using a lot of terms not commonly heard. Chances are there will be people on the board who won’t understand, either, so ask away! Just be respectful and polite (“Mr./Mrs. Smith, may I ask a question? Could you please repeat/clarify that last statement?”)
5. The ARB will stop testimony and go into deliberation. They should do this in front of you. They are not supposed to pass notes, point at anything in the evidence, etc. Once they are finished, you should receive a board order. At this point, you can accept, or file for binding arbitration. There are a few things that can help you lower your taxes like a Homestead Exemption, Over 65 Exemption and a Veteran Exemption to name a few.
If you’d like to learn more, or if you’d like a complimentary CMA, please call/text me at 512.791.6918 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always willing to help.
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