The Appraisal Review Board (ARB) will notify you at least 15 days in advance with the date, time and place of your hearing. We recommend that you try to discuss your protest issue with the ARB office in advance. You may work out a satisfactory solution without appearing before the ARB. If necessary and you can show good cause, the ARB may postpone your hearing or the chief appraiser can agree to a postponement.
At least 14 days before your protest hearing, the appraisal district will send you a copy of Texas Property Taxes: Taxpayers’ Rights, Remedies and Responsibilities; a copy of the ARB procedures; and a statement affirming that you may inspect and obtain a copy of the data, schedules, formulas and any other information the chief appraiser plans to introduce at your hearing.
If you request copies of the appraisal districts evidence, which you absolutely should do, the appraisal district may charge for copies. The charge may not exceed $15 on a residential property or $25 on a non-residential property. You do have the option to inspect the evidence at the appraisal district’s office. You can bring your smart phone to their office and take photos of the evidence if you do not want to pay for their evidence package. You can download phone apps like TurboScan that will save an image as a PDF. If you request the evidence from your appraisal district, they cannot bring any additional evidence not included in their original package to the protest hearing.
When you present your protest to the ARB, you may appear in person; send someone whom you authorize in writing to appear on your behalf; or send a sworn affidavit with evidence to support your protest. A sworn affidavit is a notarized statement of your evidence to support your case. Contact the appraisal district or the comptroller’s office for an affidavit form, but you do not need their form if your letter contains all the information required. You must have your letter notarized and send it to the ARB.
- Do not contact ARB members outside the hearing.
ARB members are prohibited from communicating with anyone about a property under protest. Each ARB member must sign an affidavit stating that he or she hasn’t discussed your case with anyone. An ARB member who discusses your case outside the hearing must remove himself or herself from your hearing. An ARB member who communicates on specific evidence, argument, facts or the merits of a protest with the chief appraiser or appraisal district staff outside the hearing commits a criminal offense (a Class C misdemeanor).
- Be on time and be prepared for your hearing.
The ARB may place time limits on hearings.
- Stick to the facts of your presentation.
The ARB has no control over the appraisal district’s operations or budget, tax rates for local taxing units, inflation or local politics; addressing these topics in your presentation wastes time and will not help your case.
- Present a simple and well-organized protest based on clear evidence.
Stress key facts and figures. Write them down in logical order and give copies to each ARB member. You are required to give a copy of your evidence to the appraisal district staff at or before the hearing. There are three ARB members and one appraisal district staff at the hearing. Photographs and other documents illustrating your case are useful.
- Recognize that the ARB acts as an independent judge.
The ARB listens to both the taxpayer and the chief appraiser before making a decision. It is not a case of the taxpayer against the ARB and the chief appraiser. Appraisal district staff must take an oath to tell the truth. The ARB will ask you to take an oath as well, either by swearing or by affirming before you present evidence. Should you refuse to take the oath, the ARB will note this fact and may take it into account as it weighs the evidence. The chief appraiser has the burden of proving your property’s value by a preponderance of the evidence presented at the ARB hearing. If he or she fails to meet the burden of proof, the ARB must determine in your favor.
In summary, be sure to request the evidence that the appraisal district has on your property before your hearing date. You also may be able to settle your protest before the ARB hearing; but if you cannot reach an agreement on value, you will need to attend the hearing, or send someone on your behalf. Texas property owners should protest each and every year. If you are unable to attend your hearing each year, send someone in your absence. A study recently performed of 43,000 Harris County O’Connor & Associates clients showed that property owners who protested for 5 or more consecutive years received higher tax savings than those property owners that only protested periodically. On average, these property owners saved $653 per year. What could you do with an extra $653 per year?
If you would like to see if you are fairly assessed based on unequal appraisal, go to the Texas Fairness Checker at www.CutMyTaxes.com. You only need to enter your property address and in less than one minute you will find out if your property is over-assessed.