The Common Law
Protest High Property Taxes
How can I have a better chance to win my property tax protest?
This first step to protesting property taxes is to file a written protest before the deadline (generally May 31 or 30 days after the appraisal district mailed a notice of appraised value). Check out last month's column for more details on filing a written protest.
Once the written protest is filed, the property owner will have the opportunity to go before the Appraisal Review Board. The ARB is a group of citizens appointed by the appraisal district's board of directors who are authorized to resolve disputes between taxpayers and the appraisal district. The ARB listens to evidence from both the property owner/taxpayer and the county and ultimately determines whether the appraisal district has acted properly.
Be organized, stick to relevant facts, and keep your presentation simple and straightforward during the ARB hearing. The ARB is required to base its decisions on evidence. Evidence the ARB may consider persuasive includes the following:
• Defects not mentioned in the district's survey (cracked foundation, inadequate plumbing, etc.) – take photos and or get supporting statements from builders, contractors, or appraisers to support your position.
• Incorrect measurements (lot size, square footage, etc.) – locate deed records, surveys, or blueprints and take photos to prove the inaccuracy.
• Comparison properties – is there a big difference between the appraised value of your home and others like it in your area? If yes, legitimate comparison sales may demonstrate that your property was not treated equally.
• Hire professionals – a property owner may want to consider hiring an independent appraiser and/or attorney if the amount in dispute is significant.
The ARB will provide at least 15 days notice of the hearing date (most hearings are conducted between May and August). The taxpayer will also receive a copy of ARB procedures and "Texas Property Taxes: Taxpayers' Rights, Remedies & Responsibilities," which will explain the hearing process in more detail. Check out the detailed information published by the Texas Comptroller's Office (www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/proptax/protests.html) to learn more about protesting property taxes.
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Johns, Marrs, Ellis. & Hodge LLP, www.jmehlaw.com.
The material in this column is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute, nor is it a substitute for, legal advice. For advice on your specific facts and circumstances, consult a licensed attorney. You may wish to contact the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas, a non-profit public service of the Austin Bar Association, at 512-472-8303 or www.austinlrs.com.