Do you know what Unequal Appraisal is and how it can help you in your fight for fair taxes?
*Its ok! We didn’t either at first! 🙂
Background of Unequal Appraisal
During the 1997 legislative session, major changes were made to the Texas Property Tax Code. One of the reforms was the right to appeal property taxes based on unequal appraisal. Harris County Appraisal District chose to VIGOROUSLY OPPOSE this provision of the tax code. (SHOCKER!)
Appealing based on unequal appraisal is BENEFICIAL because it allows an owner to reduce the taxes even if the property is assessed for much less than the market value.
In the past, appraisal districts wanted a VERY COMPLICATED process to hear cases of unequal appraisal which was EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE to prepare. The new approach also made judicial appeals financially feasible and effective.
Why Aren’t Properties Assessed Equally to Begin With?
You may be wondering why properties aren’t assessed equally.
Some reasons include:
- Data errors
- Focusing only on recent sales
- VARIATIONS in the informal and ARB hearings.
Since the appraisal district tracks over 1.4 million real property accounts in Harris County, it is unrealistic to expect all of the data to be accurate.
At this point, you are probably thinking “This sounds great! How can I use it to my advantage?”
First and foremost: File An Appeal Annually.
According to the Texas Comptroller, last year 2/3 of appeals were successful.
**On the Notice of Protest form, you must select a reason(s) for your appeal. Be sure to check the boxes for both market value and unequal appraisal.
Here’s what to do to prepare for your hearing:
- Prepare for your hearing(s) by gathering the comparable home sales in your area. If you own a commercial property, you will need to create an income analysis. In addition, review the assessment for your property as well as the assessments for competing or similar properties.
- Consider the level of assessment for approximately 5 to 15 similar properties and summarize the data in a spreadsheet.
- To determine negotiating parameters, begin with setting the lower limit (of assessed value) that is reasonable to request and conclude by setting the highest level of assessment you will accept for the year under appeal (without continuing the appeal process to the ARB and judicial appeal level).
- You should present information on both market value and unequal appraisal at the informal, and, if necessary, ARB hearings.
*Here is a link for a Universal Protest Form.*
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