What You Can Do About Your Property Taxes?
It’s property tax season. Across Texas homeowners are receiving their property tax assessments in the mail along with their new tax bill. As someone on my Facebook feed said, make sure you take your blood pressure medication before taking a peek. If you’re in a new home or you notice your taxes have increased greatly since last year there is an option, filing a protest of your property assessment. Keep in mind, your end goal is to get your property value assessment appealed so that you can lessen the amount of property taxes, you aren’t protesting your actual taxes.
Steps to Protesting Your Property Value Assessment
Step One: Do Your Research
The appraisal district in your county has a record card for each property it assesses. This card contains information about your property such as lot size, building size, amenities. You can review most of this information on the appraisal district’s website, click here to find your property if you’re in Bexar County.
Taxing authorities try to tax as closely possible to current market value by using the purchase price and comparable prices paid for other homes in the neighborhood, but the system isn’t perfect, so you have a chance to appeal their assessment.
There are several reasons that you can contest your home’s value appraisal. You may find a mistake on your property record card, whether it’s the wrong square footage, the wrong number of rooms, or changes you have made like filling up an old pool. You may also find similar homes in your area with lower values by looking up comparable properties or by hiring a professional to appraise your home. If you recently purchased the home, you may use the purchase price to contest your assessment.
Step Two: File a Protest
Property tax appeals can be filed using the form provided by the appraisal district or you can download it here. The deadline to file a protest in Texas this year is May 18th.
Step Three: Your Hearing
There are 3 legal avenues for you go through.
Informal Hearing : After filing your protest you’ll be notified of a date and time to attend a hearing. This meeting is conducted with a staff appraiser and typically only lasts 15 minutes. You can present your research and the appraiser will decide whether they will offer to settle by establishing a lower assessment or cannot make an adjustment.
Appraisal Review Board Hearing : The ARB Hearing includes 3 members of the appraisal review board, a staff appraiser, and a hearing clerk. Again your research can be presented and a decision will be made. This decision is not subject to negotiation but can be appealed in a Texas district court if a lawsuit is filed.
Litigation : You have the right to file a lawsuit and enter litigation but at this step you should consider the amounts of any potential tax savings, legal costs, and expert witness costs.
File Your Homestead Exemption
If you haven’t, you’ll also want to file your Homestead Exemption. The homestead exemption is an exception from property taxes that can be claimed by homeowners on their primary residence. Download the Residence Homestead Exemption Application from your county appraisal office, fill it out, and send the completed form along with all required documents to your county appraisal district. For those in Bexar County click here for the 50-114 form. The applications must be postmarked before or on April 30th!
If you need help finding comparable sales, let’s connect, we would love to help you!
-Karla Barajas The RoPax Group