The Common Law: High Property Taxes? File a Written Protest

Protest High Property Taxes

Last year my property taxes were reasonable. But this year, Travis County says my house has an incredibly high appraised value – which means really high property taxes. I want to challenge my property taxes. How do I do it?

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 download and submit the "Protest Form" (Form 50-132) provided by the Travis County Appraisal District (www.traviscad.org/pdf/Forms/ARB/50-132_NoticeOfProtest.pdf).

As a general rule, the deadline to file a notice of protest of your property's value is May 31; however, multiple exceptions exist that could alter your deadline. If you are uncertain of your deadline, contact the appraisal review board to confirm the specific deadline to file your protest form. There are a handful of exceptions that allow people to file a late protest (full time military, off-shore workers, etc.).

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)?

Check out previous Common Law columns 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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