In Texas, property protest hearing season is a hectic time for property owners, county appraisal districts (CADs), and the Appraisal Review Board (ARB). Property protests occur when the homeowner is dissatisfied with the CADs appraisal of their property’s worth. In most cases, this means that the property owner feels that their property is worth less than the appraised value.

A higher value often correlates to more property taxes, and no one wants to deal with those. So, property protests and hearings are commonplace in Texas. Hearings take place before the ARB, and it’s important to be prepared for everything that might come your way. Even though, as KCBX reports, the property tax base for some locations in Texas has gone up from $50 million to $200 million in just 6 years.

1. When is the Season?

For the most part, property protest hearing season will occur sometime in April or shortly thereafter. Texas state law indicates that appraisal notices should arrive by April 1 or a reasonable date after that. Each county’s CAD is responsible for notifying property owners of their property’s value and the taxes they will have to pay. If the property owner is dissatisfied with the valuation of their property, they can file a notice of protest with the ARB.

2. Dates and Deadlines

Although the hearings might take place in and around April, you’re not guaranteed a hearing simply by filing a protest. When you receive the appraisal notice from the CAD, you have 30 days to file a notice of protest with the ARB. In most circumstances, the last date to file is May 31. An exception to this deadline is if May 31st falls on a weekend or a holiday; in this case, the deadline moves to the next business day, so for 2014, the deadline is June 2nd.

However, if you were to receive your appraisal notice on May 15, then you have 30 days from that date to file your protest, or June 15. Again, most appraisal notices will be sent out in April, so you will likely need to fill your protest by the end of May 31.

3. Avoiding the Hearing

Of course, most people would rather get out of hearing altogether if that’s at all possible. Before you rush off to file a protest with the ARB, you should go to your local CAD to see if you can solve the problem informally. In some instances, the problem can be due to clerical errors or other fixable issues. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts indicates that many CADs have their own channels for informally resolving these issues. This is a great way to get accurate appraisal values while also avoiding the fuss of a hearing.

4. Valid Protest Reasons

There are 4 basic reasons for property owners to protest an appraisal by the local CAD. These include excessive value, imbalanced appraisals, declined exemptions, and lack of notice from the CAD. Excessive value is self-explanatory in that the property in question may have been valued at too high of a price by the CAD.

Imbalanced appraisals refer to the fact that some comparable properties are appraised at vastly different amounts. For instance, an appraisal for one house might be $100,000. An appraisal for the exact same house in the same neighborhood could be $50,000. The first property owner might protest the valuation based on imbalanced appraisals.

You can also protest if the CAD declined exemptions that you applied for and are qualified for. Lastly, if the CAD does not provide notice of a change in property value, then you can protest an increase.

5. Come Prepared for the Hearing

If you are preparing for a property protest hearing in front of the ARB, then you should come prepared. Try to gain an understanding of typical ARB procedures. Bring photo evidence of property damage or other evidence that proves your claims. You are given the right to review any of the evidence and arguments that the CAD may make against you. This allows you to prepare evidence to combat their evidence. It’s important to bring the property to the ARB, so to speak.

Contact O’Connor & Associates to talk to property tax experts. They will be able to answer your questions regarding the hearing season.