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» Steps to Protesting Your Property Taxes
» The Approaches to Establishing Property Value
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» Our Fee Offer for Commercial Property Owners
» Our Fee Offer for Homeowners
» Sample House Bill 201 Letter
News & Articles
» Binding Arbitration Empowers Texas Property Owners
» Property Tax Tip #1: Appealing Property Taxes for Your Home
» Property Tax Tip #2: Preparing for Your Property Tax Hearing
» Property Tax Tip #3: The Hearing Process
» Appeal Your Property Taxes on Market Value and Unequal Appraisal
» Protesting Commercial Property Taxes (PDF)
» Texas Business Personal Property Rendition and Taxation
» Appealing Property Taxes for Apartments

» Property Tax Appeals - Its Your Money!

» County Appraisal Districts
» Appraisal District Information

Useful Forms
» Protest Form (41-44)
» Residential Homestead Exemption Form (11.13)
» Real Property Correction (25.25RP)
» Appointment of Agent for Property Taxes - Residential (50-241)
» Appointment of Agent for Property Taxes - Commercial (50-162)
» Motion for Hearing to Correct One-Third Over-Appraisal Error (50-230)
» Joint Motion to Correct Incorrect Appraised Value (50-249)
» Property Owner's Affidavit of Evidence (50-283)
» Request for Binding Arbitration (AP-219)
» Application for 1-d-1 (Open-Space) Agricultural Appraisal (50-129)
» General Real Estate Rendition of Taxable Property (50-141)
» General Personal Property Rendition of Taxable Property - Non Income Producing (50-142)
» Business Personal Property Rendition of Taxable Property (50-144)


Less Frequently Asked Questions - O'Connor & Associates!

Property Tax - Less Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I bought my home in 2005, and forgot to file a homestead exemption for 2006. Is it too late to claim a homestead exemption for 2006 and obtain a refund?

A: You can still obtain a homestead exemption for 2006 provided the request is filed by January 31, 2008 (1 year after the delinquency data for the taxes).

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Q: The appraisal district has inaccurate information regarding the size of my home. Can I get a refund for prior years?

A: It depends on the amount of the error. You can certainly correct it for the current year and you can likely correct it for the past four years.

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Q: I forgot to file a property tax protest by May 31. However, my property is assessed at twice its actual market value. Is there anything I can do?

A: Yes. You can file a substantial error correction appeal (2525d) provided it is filed by the tax delinquency date. This is typically January 31 of the following year.

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Q: I'm 75 years old. I just sold my prior home and purchased a new home. There was a deep discount for school taxes at the old home but there is no discount for school taxes at the new home. Is the over 65 homestead exemption portable?

A: Yes.

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Q: Is it worth filing for a homestead exemption?

A: Yes, it typically reduces your property taxes by about 20%.

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Q: I appealed my property taxes last year, and my value did not change. However, my value still seems high compared to the value of neighboring properties. Can I protest this year?

A: You can protest your property taxes each year regardless of whether the tax assessment changes. Each year you can protest market value and unequal appraisal.

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Q: What is unequal appraisal?

A: Unequal appraisal is when you are assessed at a higher level than similar properties. You can obtain information regarding similar properties from the appraisal district web site for most counties in Texas.

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Q: I protested my property taxes including attending the ARB hearing (appraisal review board). However, I still believe the market value for my property is much less than the assessed value set by the appraisal review board. What are my options?

A: You can file a judicial appeal or a request for binding arbitration. For most homes, the request for binding arbitration is a more effective and economical option.

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Q: I have not heard about binding arbitration. Please explain it.

A: The property owner files a request for binding arbitration within 45 days after receiving official notice of the appraisal review board's decision. The property owner completes a form, remits payment of a $500 deposit and lists a requested value. The appraisal district forwards the request for binding arbitration to the Comptroller. The Texas Comptroller facilitates selection of an arbitrator who holds a binding arbitration hearing. There is an exchange of evidence prior to the hearing. Both the property owner and the appraisal district have an option to present evidence at the hearing. The arbitrator will make a final decision regarding the assessed value for the year. If the value is less than the value set by the appraisal review board, the assessed value for property taxes will be reduced. The assessed value for property taxes will not be increased as a result of the binding arbitration hearing. The Comptroller retains $50 for facilitating the binding arbitration process. If the arbitrator selects a number closer to the property owner's value, the appraisal district pays for the cost of the binding arbitration and the property owner receives a refund of $450 from the deposit. If the value selected by the arbitrator is closer to the appraisal district's value, the property owner does not receive a refund of any portion of the deposit. If the value is less than the value set by the appraisal review board, the value is reduced.

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Q: Appealing my property taxes seems very complicated. How do I get started?

A: File a property tax appeal prior to May 31 with the appraisal review board. You can obtain a copy of the form from the Texas Comptroller's web site or from the appraisal district web site in most cases. At the same time the property tax protest is filed with the appraisal review board, send a request to the appraisal district for the information they will present at the hearing. The jargon for this information is a House Bill 201 package. It will typically have information regarding your property, comparable sales the appraisal district plans to present and information on unequal appraisal. Check the information regarding your property for accuracy. If it is not accurate, this is a great way to reduce your property taxes. Review the comparable sales data provided by the appraisal district. In many cases, some of the comparable sales will support a value lower than your assessed value. Document any deferred maintenance at your property. Also document any offensive properties that are proximate to your property.

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Q: Why have the appraisal districts become so much more aggressive in increasing property taxes during the last three to five years?

A: Because of the annual ratio study performed for each school district by the Texas Comptroller's office. The Texas Comptroller has told many appraisal districts their values are substantially below market value and need to be increased. If the appraisal districts do not increase the values to a level acceptable to the Texas Comptroller, the school districts can lose a part of their school funding to the state due to Robin Hood school funding provisions.

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Q: I never received my notice of assessed value in the mail. Therefore, I did not protest. However, my assessed value increased sharply. Are there any options to appeal?

A: Yes. You can appeal under failure to receive notice; section 41.411 of the Texas Property Tax Code

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Q: I did not receive the notice for my property tax hearing. The appraisal district says they mailed it and there is nothing they can do. Do I have any recourse?

A: Yes. You can appeal under failure to receive notice; section 41.411 of the Texas Property Tax Code.

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Q: I bought a house three years ago. However, the appraisal district still only values my property as a vacant lot even though they have given me a homestead exemption. What should I do? Am I legally required to tell them they have not assessed my property?

A: You are not legally required to tell them they have not assessed your property. However, they can tax you for omitted property for the current year and 4 prior years. If you do not correct the error, you need to be prepared to pay the current year's taxes and taxes for prior years.

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Q: My parents died last year and gave me their house. The property taxes are very low because of the over 65 tax exemption and the low school taxes which occurred 20 years ago. The appraisal district has not changed ownership for the property even though a deed was filed at the courthouse. Should I just pay the lower level of taxes?

A: It is highly likely the appraisal district will discover the error at some point. If they do, they will assess you the taxes for the difference between what you paid and what you should have paid. You are probably better off correcting the error with the appraisal district.

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Q: What are the benefits of an over 65-homestead exemption?

A: The most significant benefit is it freezes your current level of school property taxes. In addition, it typically provides additional exemptions for property taxes.

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Q: I run a small business. I have business personal property worth about $3,000. However, the appraisal district committed a gross error and estimated the value of my personal property at $100,000. It was such a ridiculous error, I did not bother to address it. However, now a law firm is suing me for over $20,000 in taxes, penalties and interest. How can I fix this stupid mistake?

A: It is probably not possible to remedy the error at this point unless the appraisal district assessed you for property that does not exist. For example, if they assessed you for $90,000 of inventory and you do not have any inventory, you can probably get this part of the valuation stricken using a correction protest. However, property owners are well advised to monitor property tax assessments on an annual basis. It is very difficult to correct errors for prior years.

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Houston, TX 77018
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