It’s that time of year again. Yes, tax time. If you’re like me, you received a notice from your appraisal district notifying you of the proposed value of your property for the current tax year. However, what many of you do not know is what to do if you are dissatisfied with the appraised value of your home, or if errors exist in the appraisal records regarding your property. In this post, I’ll quickly guide you through the processes of how appraisal districts value your property and how to go about protesting your property’s appraised value should you need to.
Determining the Value of Your Property
The Texas Property Tax Code states that all taxable property must be valued at market value. Market value is the price at which a property would transfer for cash or its equivalent under prevailing market conditions if:
- for sale in the open market with a reasonable time for the seller to find a purchaser;
- both the seller and the purchaser know of all the uses and purposes to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used and of the enforceable restrictions on its use; and
- both the seller and purchaser seek to maximize their gains and neither is in a position to take advantage of the other.
Determining market value takes into account factors such as local market conditions, size, quality of construction, age, location, and condition.
Sales of comparable properties are used to value other similar properties that did not sell. Current sales are the most accurate indicator of market value. However, a statistically valid number of sales are used, not just a single sale. Uniformity of valuation among similar properties and between categories is as important as market value.
Estimating the Tax Amount
The estimated tax amount shown on your Notice of Appraised Value is calculated by multiplying the proposed value by the previous year’s tax rate. Tax rates are established by the city council, school board, and county commissioner’s court after the appraisal roll is certified, usually in late summer or early fall. The rate set for the current year may be more or less than the rate used for an estimated tax amount on this value notice.
Protesting the Appraised Value
As a property owner, your most important right is your right to protest the Appraisal Review Board (ARB) regarding the appraised value of your property or other actions taken by the appraisal district concerning your property. In most cases, protests must be made by May 31, or 30 days from the date the appraisal district notice is delivered, whichever is later.
If you believe that the appraised value of your property is incorrect, the solution may be as easy as calling the appraisal district and speaking to an appraiser. The appraiser may review the property record with you and may make an adjustment if you show that change is warranted by presenting factual evidence to support the change. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.
If, after speaking to an appraiser, you are still not satisfied with the appraised value of your property, you may appeal the action to the ARB. For convenience, the appraisal district provides Notice of Protest Forms, but no specific form is required. The Notice of Protest need only:
- be in writing;
- identify the property owner;
- identify the property that is the subject of the protest;
- indicate dissatisfaction with some determination of the appraisal office; and
- be postmarked to the ARB by the deadline date printed on the Notice of Appraised Value.
Note that only the property owner (the person holding title to the property), the owner’s authorized agent (generally a Real Estate Attorney), or a lessee who is contractually obligated to reimburse the title owner for taxes can file a Notice of Protest.
Appearing Before the Review Board
You can appear at the ARB hearing in person, by affidavit, or through an agent. Note that evidence presented by affidavit must arrive before the scheduled time of the hearing, and in order for an agent to be authorized, a current Appointment of Agent form must be on file with the appraisal district or included in the evidence.
If you fail to appear, you may lose the right to be heard by the ARB on the protest and the right to appeal. However, you may be entitled to a new hearing if a written statement showing good cause is filed not later than four days after the hearing date.
If you have questions or concerns regarding the appraised value of your property or the protest process, do not hesitate to contact the experienced Real Estate attorneys at The Farah Law Firm, P.C. Our attorneys have years of experience successfully protesting property value taxes and possess the expertise and resources needed to make your property tax protest a success!