Fort Bend County property tax savings from property tax protests have risen from $66.8 million in 2012 to $123.83 million in 2021 (latest year data available), an 85% increase. Statewide, property tax savings rose from $1.509 billion in 2012 to $4.38 billion in 2021, a 190% increase.

Fort Bend County Tax Protest Property Tax Savings

Commercial property owners were the driving factor in increasing property tax savings from property tax protests in Fort Bend County. Tax protests saved Fort Bend County commercial property owners $53.2 million in 2012 but savings rose to $102.6 million in 2021, a 93% increase. Property tax savings from Fort Bend County home owners rose from $13.6 million in 2012 to $21.2 million in 2021, a 56% increase.

Texas Tax Protest Property Tax Savings

Statewide property tax savings for houses rose from $251 million in 2012 to $677 million in 2021, a 170% increase. Property tax savings from commercial owners rose from $1.258 billion in 2012 to $3.702 billion in 2021, a 194% increase. Property owners who exercise their appeal rights save billions in property taxes annually.

Are Tax Protests Worthwhile?

Fort Bend County homeowners who protested averaged savings of $341 versus statewide savings of $527 from informal / ARB hearings. Fort Bend County commercial property owners averaged savings of $4,565 in 2021 versus $4,086 per commercial tax protest statewide. Tax protests are worthwhile and savings are substantial. Protest annually to get the best result. Protest through the binding arbitration / judicial appeal phase when financially feasible.


Are Benefits of Protests Spread Equally?

No, protest benefits are skewed to commercial owners since few homeowners protest. Less than 10% of Texas homeowners protest. Statewide owners gain a reduction in the informal hearing in 80 to 90% of informal property tax protests. In Fort Bend County the odds are similar. Homeowners who protest get a reduction at the informal hearing in 85 to 95% of informal protests for houses.


Fort Bend County Ranks in Top 10 for Property Tax Protests

Fort Bend Central Appraisal District property tax protests ranked 7th of 254 counties in Texas. FBCAD had 84,679 tax protests in 2021. Texas counties with the highest number of protests in 2021 are summarized below:

Protests % of Accounts Protested
Harris 453,842 24%
Tarrant 148,104 8
Dallas 147,665 17
Travis 141,184 36
Bexar 136,648 19
Denton 91,961 20
Fort Bend 84,879 22
Collin 78,825 20
Montgomery 61,029 18
Galveston 60,238 31
Texas 2,191,000 10.5%


Fort Bend County Protest Rate High

The portion of Fort Bend County property tax parcels protested (21.9% of all accounts) is about double the statewide rate of 10.5%. Fully 24% of Fort Bend County tax parcels have been protested the last few years. The portion of Fort Bend accounts protested is up from 19% in 2014. Texas-wide, owners protest 10.5% of parcels in 2021, up from 6.5% of tax parcels protested in 2014. Only Travis (35.6% of accounts protested) and Galveston (30.6% of accounts protested in 2021),Harris (24.2%), Williamson (23.7%) and Hays (22.2%) had a higher proportion of accounts protested in 2021 compared to 21.9% of Fort Bend accounts protested in 2021.

Fort Bend County Tax Protests versus Statewide

Statewide there are 20,960,000 tax parcels and 2,191,000, or 10.5%, were protested in 2021. The portion of accounts protested rose from 6.5% in 2014 to 10.5% in 2021. Fort Bend County has 387,320 accounts in 2021 and 84,680 accounts were protested in 2021. Fort Bend County property tax protests accounted for 3.9% of statewide tax protests. Fort Bend County protests have risen from 18.8% of accounts in 2014 to 21.9% in 2021.

Fort Bend County Property Tax Protest Assessment Reduction

Property tax protest assessment reductions have doubled in Fort Bend County since 2012 and have tripled in Texas. Property tax protest assessment reductions in Fort Bend County rose from $2.47 billion in 2012 to $4.59 billion in 2021, an 86% increase. Texas property tax protest assessment reductions increased from $55.9 billion in 2012 to $162.2 billion in 2021, a 190% increase. These assessment reductions include informal hearings, appraisal review board hearings and judicial appeals. Data for assessment reduction from binding arbitration is not available.

Assessment Reduction by Stage

Property taxes can be reduced at the informal hearing, appraisal review board hearing or in binding arbitration / judicial appeal. It is true Texas has one Tax Code that includes the process for valuing property and tax protests. In practice, rules and processes vary for a variety of reasons. Some appraisal districts prefer to resolve most protests in the informal hearing process. At the other end of the spectrum, some appraisal districts are reluctant to settle at the informal or appraisal review board and effectively push accounts into either binding arbitration or a judicial appeal.


Assessment reduction at the informal hearing and judicial appeal stage have increased sharply. Assessment reductions rose from $0.76 billion to $1.23 billion, a 62% increase, during 2012 to 2021. Assessment reductions achieved during a judicial appeal fell from $0.15 billion to $0.14 billion, a 7% decline. Meanwhile, assessment reduction at the ARB increased from $1.56 billion to $3.22 billion, a 106% increase.

Fort Bend County Resolves Most Single Family Accounts at the Informal Hearing

Following are notes on the stage in the protest process where assessment reduction occurs in Fort Bend County and statewide. Fort Bend County assessment reduction occurs 64% in informal hearings, 33% in ARB hearings and 3% in judicial appeals. Statewide 45% of assessment reduction occurs at informal hearings, with 36% at ARB hearings and 19% in judicial appeal reductions. Judicial appeals are an often overlooked tool in property tax reduction. Fort Bend County property owners get a larger than typical portion of the tax reduction at the informal hearing, versus the appraisal review board or judicial. The volume of judicial appeal savings in Fort Bend County is modest.

Are Informal Hearings Worth It at FBCAD?

Yes, 70 to 90% of Fort Bend County informal settlements include a reduction in value. Statewide the success rate is about 80% at informal hearings. Homeowners are more likely to succeed than commercial property owners in both Fort Bend County and across Texas. In Fort Bend County, 70% to 90% of informal protests for homeowners are successful versus 50 to 70% for commercial property owners. Statewide, ~80% of homeowner informal protests involved a reduction versus about 62% for commercial property owners. The Fort Bend property tax protest success rates mirror the rates for Texas.

Are ARB Hearings Worth It?

Fort Bend County ARB hearings are more likely to generate a reduction than statewide results. There is a reduction in value at the Fort Bend County Appraisal Review Board in 40% of protest hearings, including 35% of single-family and 90% of commercial. Statewide results reported by appraisal districts are much lower. The statewide success rate at appraisal review boards is 20% overall, including ~30 to 60% for single family and about 5 to 10% for commercial property protests. The Fort Bend County success rate in property tax protests at the ARB is similar to the state for residential and much higher than the state average for commercial property hearings at the appraisal review board (ARB).

Options after the Appraisal Review Board (ARB)

There are four options after the ARB: 1) binding arbitration, 2) State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) and 3) judicial appeal (lawsuit in county district court) or 4) do nothing. There are a volume of binding arbitration filings and judicial appeals but relatively few SOAH cases. Most of the binding arbitration cases are settled without a hearing. The next posting for this blog on Fort Bend County will address appeals after the appraisal review board.

Over 95% of property owners do nothing after the ARB. We believe many accounts merit appeal at the binding arbitration and judicial appeal levels. The nuances of the process reward property owners who use the complete protest process.

Taxpayer tip – protest every year and continue the appeal to the level necessary to get the best result. Repeat annually. Most tax protests are successful most years at most appraisal districts. In most cases, annual protests can be settled at the informal hearing. However, some properties are more difficult to value than others and other properties include intangible value that needs to be extracted from the total value. An example of intangible value includes the business enterprise value of a hotel or the credit rating of a lease guarantor.

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Source: Appraisal district assessment and protest data from Texas Comptroller. Tax savings are estimated based on 2.7% tax rate and no exemptions or homestead caps. O’Connor is a private company specializing in tax reduction and is not affiliated with the Texas Comptroller or and government entity or appraisal district.

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