Property taxes are an important source of revenue for local governments in Texas. However, it’s not uncommon for property owners to feel that their property has been overvalued, resulting in higher tax assessments. This has led to a significant number of property tax appeals across the state. In this blog, we will explore the common reasons for property tax appeals in Texas and provide an overview of the appeals process, empowering property owners with a better understanding of their rights and options.
Reasons for Property Tax Appeals
- Incorrect Property Valuation: One of the primary reasons property owners file appeals is an inaccurate property valuation. Assessors may overestimate the value of a property, leading to higher tax assessments. Property owners can challenge the valuation by presenting evidence such as recent appraisals, comparable sales data, or evidence of property damage that affects the value.
- Unequal Appraisal: The Texas Constitution requires that property be assessed at market value, and all properties in a county should be appraised equally. If a property owner believes that their property has been assessed at a higher value than similar properties in the area, they can file an appeal based on unequal appraisal.
- Exemptions and Special Valuations: Certain exemptions and special valuations can help reduce property taxes. However, errors or omissions in applying these exemptions may lead to higher tax assessments. Property owners can appeal if they believe they qualify for an exemption or a special valuation and it hasn’t been granted.
- Property Damage: Properties affected by disasters, such as floods or fires, may experience a decrease in value. Property owners can appeal their tax assessments if they can demonstrate that their property’s value has been significantly diminished due to damage.
The Appeals Process
Informal Review: Before filing a formal appeal, property owners can request an informal review with the local appraisal district. This provides an opportunity to discuss concerns and potentially resolve the issue without going through a formal process. It’s important to provide supporting evidence during this stage to strengthen the case.
Formal Appeal: If the informal review doesn’t result in a satisfactory resolution, property owners can proceed with a formal appeal. The deadline for filing a formal appeal is typically May 31st, or within 30 days of receiving the appraisal notice, whichever is later. The appeal can be filed with the local appraisal review board (ARB) or the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH), depending on the property type and value.
ARB Hearing: Once the appeal is filed, the property owner will receive a hearing date. During the hearing, the property owner presents their evidence and arguments, while the appraisal district defends its valuation. The ARB will make a determination based on the evidence presented.
Further Appeals: If dissatisfied with the ARB’s decision, property owners have the option to pursue further appeals. This may involve filing a lawsuit in district court, engaging in mediation, or pursuing binding arbitration.
Tips for a Successful Appeal
Gather Evidence: Compile all relevant evidence, including recent appraisals, comparable sales data, photographs, or any documentation supporting your case. The more solid evidence you present, the stronger your appeal will be.
Understand the Process: Familiarize yourself with the specific deadlines, procedures, and requirements for filing an appeal in your jurisdiction. Failure to adhere to these guidelines can jeopardize your case.
Consult Experts: Consider seeking professional advice from real estate appraisers, tax consultants, or property tax attorneys who specialize in property tax appeals. They can provide valuable insights and guidance throughout the process.
Be Prepared for Negotiation: In some cases, the appraisal district may be open to negotiations or settlements before or during the appeal. It’s essential to be prepared for discussions and potentially reach a mutually agreeable resolution.
Understanding the property tax appeals process in Texas empowers property owners to challenge incorrect valuations and ensure fair taxation. By identifying common reasons for appeals, gathering strong evidence, and navigating the process effectively, property owners can increase their chances of a successful appeal. Remember to consult professionals if needed and be prepared to negotiate. By exercising your rights, you can potentially reduce your property tax burden and achieve a fair and accurate assessment.