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Property Tax Reduction Consultants

Property Tax Reduction Consultants

Property tax reduction consultants focus on reducing their client’s property taxes.  However, some property tax consultants are more aggressive than other property tax consultants. As an example, many property tax consultants will “sign off” at the informal hearing if they are not able to achieve a reduction in the property taxes.  Stated differently, some property tax consultants will agree to the initial guesstimate generated by the appraisal district’s computers.  If they are not able to negotiate a lower value during the first step of the property tax appeal process, many consultants agree with the appraisal districts value.  Our property tax consultants will continue to the next steps in the process and do whatever is financially feasible to reduce their client’s property taxes.  Think of us as the Energizer Bunny™ for tax appeals; we just don’t quit.

Are the Property Tax Consultant’s Interests Aligned with the Property Owner’s Interest?

O’Connor property tax consultants take a particularly aggressive approach in reducing their clients’ property taxes.  The property tax reduction consultants at O’Connor are uniformly aggressive in the attitude they bring to property tax appeal. If they are not successful at getting a reduction at the informal hearing, in almost all cases the O’Connor consultant will continue to the next step in the process, the appraisal review board. Many if not most of our peers sign off at the informal hearing if they are not able to get a reduction for. O’Connor will also continue the appeal beyond the appraisal review board. Property owners have two options after the appraisal review board 1) judicial appeal and 2) binding arbitration.

Is Your Consult Too Cozy with the Appraisal District?

Many property tax consultants previously worked in appraisal districts and our highly sensitive to being too aggressive in their tax reduction efforts.  The property tax consultant has a fiduciary relationship with the property owner. If the property tax consultant is aware of information that does not benefit the property owners’ interest, the tax consultant should not use the information and must keep it private. At O’Connor, our property tax consultants are perfectly clear that are objective is to improve the lives of property owners through cost effective tax reduction.

Is the Property Tax Reduction Consultant Aggressive and Effective?

The property owner interviewing a property tax consultant should ask questions to ascertain whether there is a good alignment of interest between the property owner and the property tax consultant.  Many property tax consultants previously worked at appraisal districts and have longstanding relationships with the people at the appraisal district. This is perfectly understandable. However, the property tax consultant should be working to minimize the client’s property taxes instead of seeking approval from appraisal district staff.  As a property owner hiring a property tax consultant, it pays to ask probing questions to understand the level of aggression used by a property tax consultant. Following are some questions you might find helpful when interviewing a property tax consultant:

  • How many years have you been doing property tax appeals?
  • How many property tax appeals do you do annually?
  • How many property tax appeals do you do annually in the county where my property is located?
  • Do you protest all of your accounts every year regardless of whether the assessed value is higher, the same or lower. (Many reputable consultants only appeal a portion of the accounts for which they are responsible as fiduciaries on an annual basis.)  O’Connor believes that it’s in the property owners’ interests to appeal annually whether they’re appealing on their own or through a property tax consultant.
  • If they don’t protest every property every year, what portion of the properties are appealed on an annual basis?
  • If not appealing all properties every year, how do they pick which properties to appeal?
  • What portion of your accounts do you typically get a reduction for?
  • For the accounts protested, what portion are signed off at the informal hearing with no reduction? In other words, for the accounts protest that, how often does the consultant agree that the original value set by the appraisal district computer is correct?
  • How do you prepare a hearing evidence file for the informal hearing? What information is contained in the hearing evidence file you prepare? For houses, it should include compare sales of homes in the area, land sales in the area and information on unequal appraisal. (O’Connor’s hearing evidence file contains this and much more.  A typical hearing file for a house is 50 to 100 pages of data and analysis to effect property tax reduction.)
  • Will you handle the appeal at no cost to me if the value is not acceptable after the appraisal review board (ARB)? This would require that the property tax consultant coordinate and pay the cost of either coordinating a judicial appeal or binding arbitration. If there is a judicial appeal, do you pay all the legal costs? If there is a judicial appeal, will you pay the fees for the expert witnesses?
  • If you have property in different counties, ask whether they consultant regularly handles appeals in the counties where you have property.

Will the Consultant Prepare a Credible Evidence File and Attend the ARB hearing?

In our experience, clients consistently want property tax consultants to focus on minimizing their property taxes. Many property tax consultants can appeal modest valued houses at the informal level. However, many of them are uncomfortable proceeding to the appraisal review board.  It takes time to prepare a hearing evidence file for the appraisal review board hearing. In addition, the property tax consultant needs to prepare 5 copies of the evidence file so each of the ARB members and the appraiser at the hearing will have a copy. Appraisal review board hearings typically require more time than an informal hearing.

Our approach

O’Connor’s core focus is enriching lives of property owners through cost effective tax reduction.  Our approach is to appeal every property to the highest level that is financially feasible every year. Each step in the property tax appeal process is somewhat arbitrary and in general the results at the appraisal review board level are very likely to be different than the results at the informal level.

Judicial Appeal

O’Connor pays all costs related one coordinating a judicial appeal. This includes the legal fees, filing fees and the cost for the expert witness to prepare reports and testify if necessary.

Binding Arbitration

O’Connor also pays the $450+ plus binding arbitration application fee when handling a binding arbitration appeal for our clients. This is unusual. Most of our competitors require that the property owner pay the binding arbitration deposit. Binding arbitration deposits range from $450 to $1500 depending on the type of property and value of the property. Binding arbitration is a loser pays proposition. If the arbitrator’s number is closer to the appraisal review board value than to the property owners value, the property owner pays the binding arbitration fee. Conversely, if the arbitrators value is closer to the property owner’s value, then the appraisal districts pays for the binding arbitration fee.

O’Connor’s threshold for coordinating either judicial appeals or binding arbitration for Texas property owners are as follows:

Threshold for coordinating judicial appeal for commercial $750,000
Threshold for coordinating judicial appeal for residential $1,500,000

The above are standard thresholds. We regularly make exceptions when a property is still overvalued after the appraisal review board hearing.

We believe O’Connor is the most aggressive and most effective property tax consultant in the United States. We know you can spend your money better than the government can spend your money. We attempt to handle each property tax appeal as if we were the property owner. Since almost all of our clients pay us on a contingency fee basis, there is an excellent alignment of interest with the client.

Client’s Interest is Aligned with our Interest

O’Connor appeals every property every year whether the value was increased, reduced or remained flat. Our experience over 30 years shows this is the most effective means to minimize property taxes. Elements of the property tax appeal process are arbitrary. For example, the appraiser at the informal hearing may be someone who is flexible and motivated to resolve appeals or could be someone who is completely inflexible and not willing to make any changes. The appraisal review board could be one that is receptive to hearing the property owner’s position or it could be one that is more receptive to hearing the appraisal district’s position. It is impossible to know whether the appraiser or the appraisal review board panel will be favorable until after the appeal is filed. Further, state law does not allow you to get the hearing evidence file with comparable sales data in your neighborhood unless you file a property tax protest.

Summary

These are a few of the reasons O’Connor appeals every property every year a property tax reduction consultant. You never pay a fee unless we reduce your property taxes. In the years where we are successful, we will send an invoice for a portion of the savings. And the years when we are not successful, we will advise you of the hearing results and there will be no cost to you.  In the years when we are not successful, you have the peace of mind knowing that an aggressive property tax consultant made every practical effort to reduce your property taxes.

Property tax reduction consultants handle about 75% of the property tax appeals in Texas. There is no reason a property owner cannot prepare and attend the hearing on their own and be successful. A property owner can handle their own appeal. However, most property owners lack the interest or the desire to attend the property tax appeal hearing an engage a property tax consultant.

We fight.  You Win.  Pay nothing unless we reduce your property taxes, not even a nickel.

Blog Author

Patrick O’Connor, MAI, Owner and President
Patrick O’Connor has been active in reducing property taxes, providing expert witness testimony and appraising commercial real estate property since 1983. Pat is active in publishing analyses and data with respect to the real estate market, while being a highly regarded media spokesperson for the real estate community. He holds a MAI, the highest achievable designation from the Appraisal Institute, and is a licensed senior property tax consultant. Pat earned a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University. In 2001, he authored the first definitive consumer guide to Texas property taxes, Cut Your Texas Property Taxes.

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Property Tax Protection Program™

You pay nothing unless we reduce your property taxes, and then only a portion of the savings. There is no flat fee, no sign up fee and no setup fee. We protest your property taxes aggressively every year, and you only pay if and when we reduce your property taxes.

O’Connor is the largest property tax consulting firm in the U.S. Our licensed tax consultants and administrative support team benefits home and property owners by reducing property tax assessments, filing personal property renditions, reviewing tax statements, protesting over-assessed property values, and attending informal tax hearings and appraisal review board meetings.

 

We work tirelessly to protest and lower your taxes with:

  • Informal hearings
  • Appraisal Review Board (ARB) hearings
  • Coordinating judicial appeals