Your property assessment has just arrived and you are shocked. How on earth has your property value increased so much in one year and what, if anything, can you do with the assigned value?
Fortunately, in Texas, you have several options. First, you can request an informal meeting with an appraiser and, if you are not satisfied with this meeting, you can formally protest the assigned value to the appraisal review committee.
This council is made up of citizens like you who volunteer to hear the protest. These people are not employees of the organization that issued the value – the Central Appraisal District (CAD), nor are they employees of any of your county’s taxing organizations.
They are paid $200 a day and are members of a council of three to five people who will hear your protest. After hearing the facts that you and the ASC are presenting, they have the power to lower your appraisal value.
After appearing before the Assessment Review Board, if you are not satisfied with its decision, you may either seek binding arbitration by an independent arbitrator or appeal the decision to a judge of the District Court of the state.
Most protests are directed to the Assessment Review Board. Here are some do’s and don’ts that will help you in your calling.
1. Prepare a list of comparable properties favorable to a reduced assessment. These properties must be very similar to your property, have roughly the same square footage, have roughly equal extras (pool, outdoor gazebo, etc.), be from the same neighborhood, etc. A real estate agent can help you with this chore.
2. Have written estimates of any major repairs that are needed on your property. Examples include foundation work, roof repair, broken driveway concrete, exterior brick or wood siding issues, fence replacement, etc. Estimates must be in writing and must be current.
3. Be respectable when appearing before council. Remember that they are impartial citizens who have the power to help you.
4. Make sure you have all the exemptions on your property that you are also entitled to: like homestead exemption, etc. Your DAC can advise you in this area.
5. If it suits your assessment, point out that property values in Texas can only increase by 10% per year, unless you are a new homeowner or a commercial property.
1. Do not submit an appraisal from a licensed appraiser unless the appraisal was completed before January 1 of this year. Remember that the assessment you are protesting was made on January 1 of this year, so any assessments made after that date will not be considered.
2. Don’t try to claim that your neighbor’s property received a lower appraisal than yours unless the two properties are nearly identical in all respects.
3. Don’t get angry and tell council members, “If you think this property is worth that much, I’ll sell it to you right now for that value.
4. Don’t be off guard when you come to the board. Have your data available in enough copies for each board member.
Property taxes in Texas remain a hotly debated topic. Compared to some states, our property tax is much higher. However, compared to those same states, we have no state income tax.
Property tax is a major source of funding for schools, counties and municipalities. Without this tax, other means would be necessary to continue financing these entities. California found out with its Proposition 13. Now they are on the brink of bankruptcy without the funds previously generated from their property taxes.
Our task as citizens is to ensure that the property tax we pay is correct and comparable to others using the same rules. That’s why we have three different ways to question the values we pay.
Use them. Challenge the value assigned to your property.
Jerry Hogan is a former Rockwall County judge who volunteers to write these articles. He can be reached at 214-394-4033 or [email protected]