The Common Law

Property tax protest – how do I increase my chances of winning at the ARB hearing?

Own property in Travis County? Odds are you are unhappy with your property taxes. The skyrocketing real estate values have come with one big negative – the annual property tax statement that makes you fall out of your chair.

This first step to protesting your property tax value is to file a timely written protest before the deadline. Check out previous The Common Law columns for tips on filing your written protest. Once the timely written protest is filed, the property owner typically has a chance to informally resolve the dispute with a representative of the Travis Central Appraisal District.

If that informal effort is unsuccessful, the next step is to appear before the Appraisal Review Board (ARB). The ARB is an independent entity appointed by a local administrative judge. The board listens to evidence from both the property owner or taxpayer and the appraisal representative and ultimately determines whether a property value adjustment is warranted.

Be organized, stick to relevant facts, and keep your presentation simple and straightforward during the ARB hearing. Always remember that the board must base its decisions on evidence. According to the Texas comptroller's office, the type of evidence the Appraisal Review Board might consider persuasive includes:

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 so, legitimate comparable 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.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the Travis Central Appraisal District as the Travis County Appraisal District. The story also incorrectly described how the Appraisal Review Board appoints members. The Chronicle regrets the errors.

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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