Shocked by High Property taxes? Learn how to protest your property taxes and take on the fight
If you are not fighting your high Texas property taxes you are paying more than your fair share. The process is simpler than most people realize. At the end of April, notices of property tax appraised value will begin to be mailed by your County Appraisal District (*CAD). After May 1st you can begin the process to protest your taxes. There are up to six steps you may take to fight and reach a new agreement with the appraisal district.
Step One – Establish your basis for your claim. There are many reasons to protest your taxes. The two main reasons are that your proposed value is unequal compared to other similar properties and/or the proposed value of your property is too high based on the condition of your property. The other reasons are kind of recording errors; a claimed exemption was not applied or denied, incorrect owner, wrong tax district, your recently purchased your home for less than the valuation, change in land use etc.
Step Two – Compile your evidence. For a protest based on the condition of your property you need contractor estimates and pictures. The best basis for this claim is foundation and other structural problems. In Dallas County, the appraisal district rates properties by their condition. A structural problem can award you the lowest rating. Getting your rating changed from excellent to poor could cut your property taxes by up to 1/3 of the total value. Fighting your taxes on the basis of condition is the easiest way to get your taxes reduced. All houses have problems that reduce its value. Make sure DCAD is taking these into consideration. For a protest based on unequal valuation you use tax and historical sales to find properties that are taxed un-equally. For instance, if your property is appraised at 100% of market value and similar properties are appraised at 90% of market value, then you have a right to protest your value based on the Appraisal District’ s failure to appraise equally and uniformly. To reach this conclusion get the historical sales information from a realtor that gets it from Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Find comparable houses that support your argument and use these for the evidence. If you recently purchased your home for less than its valuation use your closing records to support your protest.
Step Three – Request a hearing To appeal your valuation you must request in writing a hearing in front of the Appraisal Review Board (ARB) by the end of May. The ARB is composed of three citizens appointed by the chief appraiser that are fair and impartial (Ha!). The rules for requesting a hearing are provided with your tax notice.
Step Four – Request DCAD to provide you their evidence You have the right to check the evidence DCAD plans to use to support the valuation they have assigned to your property. To get this, you can request it in writing 14 days before your ARB hearing. This will guide you in your choice of properties for your counter-claim.
Step Five – Go to the hearing When you go to the hearing you are given 10 minutes to present your evidence. Make sure you have three copies of everything you have to hand out. If you have evidence you don’ t need to talk much and it will get you very far. If you plan to talk and don’t have written evidence you won’ t get much of a break from the ARB. These hearings are usually completed by the middle of July. You can also request an informal review with appraisal district staff. The appraisal district encourages all taxpayers to try to resolve their issues with an appraiser prior to their formal ARB Hearing. You should be prepared to present the same evidence that you would at a hearing. The Appraisal District has an informal way of settling tax issues without going to the ARB for a formal hearing. You may talk to an appraiser up until the day before your hearing, if you have filed a protest. If you have not filed a protest, you may discuss the value until May 31 or thirty (30) days after you received your Notice of Appraised Value. If you are able to resolve your issue prior to the ARB Hearing, then there is no need for an ARB Hearing. However, if we are unable to resolve your issue, then an ARB Hearing is needed.
Step Six – Request Binding Arbitration In 2005, the Texas Legislature gave property owners a new tool for the protest process–Binding Arbitration. For more than 25 years, Texas property owners had one way to protest and appeal local appraisal district property values. The owner had to protest the matter to the local Appraisal Review Board (ARB) and, if still not satisfied, then appeal to state district court in the county where the property was located. Now, things have changed. Binding Arbitration offers a much more affordable and less intimidating way for a property owner to appeal an ARB order which the owner contests. You can request Binding Arbitration by submitting a request form and $500. If the arbitrator rules in your favor you get $450 of this back. In this hearing you will probably present the same evidence. The exciting thing about Binding Arbitration is that the Arbitrator is not affiliated with DCAD in any form or fashion. To become an Arbitrator you must be a licensed realtor or appraiser, complete 30 hours of training, and register with the State of Texas.