Texas Property Tax Appeals
Steps to Protesting and Reducing Your Property Value Annually
Step 1. File a Property Tax Protest (aka property tax appeal)
Texas property tax appeals can be filed using the form provided by the appraisal district, or click here to download the form to file a Texas Property Tax Appeal in the property tax resources section. Otherwise, send a short letter to the chief appraiser at the central appraisal district stating that you are protesting your property taxes. Reference the property address (you can include the appraisal district account number but it is not required.) You should indicate the basis is both assessed value over market value and equal appraisal. The deadline to file a protest is May 15, or 30 days after notice of your assessed value is mailed to you, whichever is later. Protest annually to minimize your property taxes.
Step 2. Research the Central Appraisal District’s Record Card
The appraisal district in your county has a record card for each property it assesses. This card contains information such as lot size, building size, amenities, and much more. You will need to go to the district office to obtain the complete record card and there may be a nominal charge. However, you can probably review much of the basic information on the appraisal district’s website. Ask the staff if you have questions about the information. Errors in the record card are a sound basis for a protest. It is impossible to maintain correct data for every property in the county.
Step 3. Establish Property Value
Texas appraisal districts typically recognize one of three different approaches to determine market value when granting reductions in property tax assessments. Those approaches are Sales Comparison Approach, Income Approach, and Cost Approach. In addition, recent court rulings have paved the way to encourage more districts to also recognize the Uniform and Equal Approach (unequal appraisal) to valuing the property as provided in the Texas Property Tax Code. For a full description of these approaches, click on The Approaches to Establishing Property Value. Analyze both market value and unequal appraisal when preparing for your Texas property tax appeal.
Step 4. Journey through the Legal Avenues
- Informal Hearing
After filing a protest you will be notified of a date and time to attend a hearing. This meeting is conducted with a staff appraiser at the appraisal district office. It typically lasts 15 minutes. At its conclusion, the appraiser will either indicate he cannot make an adjustment, or he will offer to settle by establishing lower assessment. In Texas, most residential property tax appeals are resolved at the informal hearing.
- Appraisal Review Board Hearing
This is sometimes called a formal or ARB hearing. Participants include three members of the appraisal review board, a staff appraiser from the appraisal district, a hearing clerk (in some counties) and the property owner or their agent. The property owner or his agent and the district’s appraiser will separately present the evidence to support their opinions of the market value and unequal appraisal for the subject property. Afterward, the board members will announce its conclusion, which is not subject to negotiation. However, their decision can be appealed in a Texas district court if a lawsuit is filed against the county appraisal district to further appeal the property taxes.
While the results of informal hearings are final for the tax year and cannot be appealed through a lawsuit, the results determined at the appraisal review board hearing can be appealed to district court. Before making a decision to do so, the owner should consider the amounts of any potential tax savings, legal costs, and expert witness costs. In Texas, most judicial appeals of property tax assessments are successful.
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