The Common Law

Protesting High Property Taxes

My property taxes are outrageously high. How can I challenge the high property taxes?

File a written protest. A written notice of protest will be considered valid if it identifies the owner, the property being protested, and clearly indicates that you disagree with the appraisal district's decision. An easy way to file a written protest is to fill out and submit the protest form provided by the Travis County Appraisal District at www.traviscad.org/formlist.htm.

Keep in mind that there is a deadline to file a notice of protest of your property's value. As a general rule, the deadline will be the later of the following dates: 1) May 31st or 2) 30 days after the appraisal district mailed a notice of appraised value (note that it's not when you received the notice; rather, it is when the notice was mailed, so be sure to look at the correct date). There are a handful of exceptions that would allow people to file a late protest (full-time military, off-shore workers, etc.).

Not sure whether you want to protest your property taxes? Some of the factors the Texas Comptroller's Office suggests a property owner should consider to determine whether a protest would be appropriate include:

• Is the property valued unequally when compared with other property in the appraisal district?

• Did the appraisal district deny a relevant exemption (homestead exemption, disabled veteran exemption, etc)?

• Do the appraisal records show an incorrect owner or identify the wrong property?

• Is the property being taxed by the wrong taxing units (i.e., the tax records show the property in the incorrect school district)?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the property owner may want to give consideration to protesting the property's value for property tax purposes. Read next week's column for tips on how to prepare a good argument for a tax value protest.

Please submit column suggestions, questions, and comments to thecommonlaw@austinchronicle.com. Submission of potential topics does not create an attorney-client relationship, and any information submitted is subject to being included in future columns.

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.

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