Yes, you should protest your property taxes annually to minimize property taxes due to the arbitrary nature of the process and the people factor. The appraisal districts use inaccurate information and an inaccurate model to value your home. About the half the houses are over-valued and half are under-valued. And if half are under-valued and half are over-valued, then there are all sorts of unequal appraisal.
One issue that is not clear is the arbitrary nature of the appeal process. Some years you have good results in the informal and some year not. Same for the formal or appraisal review board hearing (ARB), some years are great and some are terrible. People are at the heart of the appeal process and some are more flexible and better understand the concept of a range of value.
The appraisal district holds it against you if you do not protest. You may hear, “Since you did not protest last year we believe you agreed to that value, and we would certainly not go below that value”.
A second reason to protest is that state law requires you to file a protest to see the evidence the appraisal district will use at the hearing, including the neighborhood sales. And until you see the sales, you do not know if they will support a reduction. Also, sometimes the unequal appraisal analysis generated by the appraisal district supports a reduction.
I’ve never forgotten how shocked the neighbor was at the property taxes for our house when I was growing up. The neighbor asked my father how he got the value so low and was surprised that the answer was to protest annually. My father learned early on that the best results are achieved by protesting annually so it has long been a tradition in my family to protest annually.
Appealing annually is also helpful to your neighbors who are addressing unequal appraisal. To the extent you are able to reduce the value of your property tax value, you provide your neighbors with evidence to support reducing their property taxes. Why, it’s downright neighborly to appeal your property taxes in Texas. And, we all want to be good neighbors, right?
Let’s consider a study we performed on 43,000 Harris County residential accounts handled by O’Connor & Associates who had protested their property taxes every year for at least 5 years. Analysis indicates that the typical value was 13% below market value, using area sales. This produces an average reduction in market value of $24,163, or 13% of market value, and generating an annual tax savings of $653, based on a 2.7% tax rate and not considering exemptions.
That’s a lot of numbers to consider, but just remember: if you protest annually, you will win some years and you will lose some years, but the appraisal district can never come back during a hearing and claim that you agreed to last year’s value to deny the current year’s protest. And it’s just the neighborly thing to do. So please, help yourself and your neighbors by appealing your property taxes annually.
If you want to quickly find out if your property is fairly assessed, go to https://www.cutmytaxes.com/fairness/SearchMain.aspx. You only have to enter your property address and you can find out if you are being taxed fairly or not.
Patrick O’Connor is President of O’Connor & Associates. Pat is a passionate advocate for property owners. He authored the book Cut Your Property Taxes to inspire Texas property owners and teach them how to effectively protest their property taxes.