by Deborah Scott-Riggs
It is that time of year again - tax season. In 2018, as you prepare for your filings, watch out for a raise in your property taxes. Property taxes are appraised annually by county appraisal districts. These appraisal districts are responsible for calculating the current market value of your property, and that value is then used to calculate your property taxes for the year. Property appraisals are a big deal in Texas, being that property taxes are typically on the higher end when compared to the remainder of the country.
If your property taxes are going to increase, you will receive notice from the county appraisal districts no later than May 1st, or as soon as possible. Keep in mind that notices are not typically sent out until all property has been appraised in the county appraisal district.
The county appraisal district has to send you a notice if:
- The value of your property is higher than it was last year
- The value of your property is higher than the value you gave on a rendition
- Your property was not on the district’s records last year
- When an exemption is reduced or cancelled for the current year
You might get this every year, and think nothing of it. However, there are thousands of people in counties all over Texas who protest and lower their appraisal value, thus lowering their annual property taxes by a significant amount. Even still, some people just don’t think there is anything you can do about it. Good news! You can do something about it!
There are several reasons you may want to protest your property’s appraisal:
- Excessive value
- Unequal appraisal
- Failure to grant exemptions
- Failure to provide notice
If you see an increase in your home’s value and believe it to be incorrect, you can protest the increase with an Appraisal Review Board. The ARB is made up of private citizens of the county and may typically have three members on the board lead by a chairman. These people are typically your neighbors, and are completely independent and not subject to the appraisal district’s authority. Odds are, they own property as well and have a vested interest in keeping property valuations low, thus keeping taxes low too.
How to protest your increased property taxes:
File a Notice of Protest Form with the ARB by May 31st
Gather evidence pertaining to why your property appraisal is incorrect
Attend your appraisal district’s informal meeting process (70 to 90 percent of protests are settled this way)
If you’re still not satisfied, you can ask for a formal protest meeting with the ARB
At this meeting you will make an argument (with evidence such as sales or other appraisals in your neighborhood) as to why your property appraisal is incorrect
The ARB will then make a decision based on the arguments of the appraiser and you
When the determination is given by the ARB chairman, you will receive notice of that determination by certified mail
Protesting your property appraisal is a process, and could take some significant time and energy. However, people do it every year. If you think that your property appraisal is incorrect but you don’t have the time or energy to deal with the protest on your own, you can hire an agent to act on your behalf. In addition to that, if you feel a second opinion is needed you can hire an appraisal company, like the Ace of Texas.
This year, you can take steps to lower your property taxes by navigating the legal avenue that the government has put in place. It may be worth it! If you need more detailed information, you can find it on the Texas Comptroller website and by downloading the Homeowner’s Guide on the right-hand side of the page. For a free market analysis of your property, feel free to give us a call here at Lubbock House Hunt.