First of all, Property taxes help fund local services, schools being the primary one, but also other community services such as law enforcement, water systems, fire, and roads. Let’s now look at the timeline of how this all plays out:
1. January 1st: Homes are appraised beginning based on condition on January 1st. Any improvements or damage after this date won’t affect your value for this year.
2. April/May: You then receive your value from the appraisal district. If you think the value is wrong, you can protest. You must file your “Notice of Protest” by May 31st. In Williamson County, you can file online or you can use the form that’s mailed to you.
3. May-September: The Appraisal Review Board (ARB) hearings (where you protest) are usually held during this time. There are both informal and formal hearings. If you don’t like the outcome during the informal hearing, you can meet with the ARB for the formal hearing. During your hearing, you’ll want to bring information on comparable homes, a possible recent appraisal, pictures, or other means of showing damage to your home that could devalue it.
4. October: Tax bills are sent out and due by January 31st of the following year.
You may receive tax exemptions if you fit certain categories, like the homestead exemption for homeowners in your primary residence, over 65 exemption, or an agricultural exemption (you can find this form on the Williamson Central Appraisal District, your realtor can provide you with the necessary link/documents, or if you don’t have one, I can help you). Should you decide to move forward with protesting your assessment, here are some important tips to follow during your hearings:
● Have enough copies of your packet for each member (you can call and ask). Highlight the important numbers that defend your position.
● Be courteous. Your goal is not to anger them; it’s to get them to listen. Raising your voice may get you heard, but I can almost guarantee you it won’t get you what you want. They are hearing people all day for months. Be polite. Complaining will get you nowhere.
● MAKE SURE you mark BOTH “Value is Over Market Value” AND, “Value is Unequal Compared to Similar Properties” when filing for protest! This allows you to gather information in order to decide which is the best course of action for you to take.
● Request documentation from the Appraisal District. Finding out what they used can help you argue your case. Fair Warning: it can be a little confusing. Look for differences that might make their comparisons poor choices.
● Ask. Yes, you can ask for clarification, to repeat their reasoning, and to explain something in more detail. Just humbly let them know you’re new to this. Make sure you understand what they’re saying before moving forward.
Because it’s our local officials who determine the tax rate, it’s important to thoroughly examine revenue issues on the ballot and who you elect as your public officials. For Williamson County, our Tax Appraiser is Mr. Alvin Lankford and the Tax Assessor-Collector is Mr. Larry Gaddes. You can contact them both at the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts website listed below.
Talk to you realtor; he/she is a great resource. If you don’t have one, let me know if you would like some help and I’ll be happy to do what I can. You can also call companies like Texas ProTax who will do all of the legwork for you, for a fee, of course. You can always find out more at https://www.wcad.org/ and https://comptroller.texas.gov.