Did you know that you may be able to lower your taxes by appealing your appraisal value? In Texas, the appraisal value of your house is what determines how much you pay in property taxes. If the appraisal value is higher than you think it should be, you have the option to file a protest! In this blog post, we will walk you through the process of making an appraisal appeal and help you save money on your taxes for 2023!

What is an Appraisal Value?

In Texas, the appraised value of your house determines how much you pay in taxes. The higher the appraisal value, the more you pay.

In late 2022, Harris County home prices were up 3.2% compared to last year, selling for a median price of $308K. With housing valuations going up, your appraised value may go up also!  (1)

With every sale of a home that’s above previous valuations, your market value may go up. However, sellers looking at comparable sales often price their homes a bit higher. If the market value of the homes in your area goes up, the higher appraisals may follow!

If you’re not happy with your appraisal value or if there is a clerical error in the appraisal records regarding your property, don’t worry! You have options!

In most cases, you can file a Harris County Notice of Protest with the Appraisal Review Board (ARB).

You’ll need to check every reason that you might want to pursue from the reasons listed:

  • Incorrect appraised (market) value.
  • Value is unequal compared with other properties.
  • Property should not be taxed in (name of taxing unit)
  • Failure to send required notice
  • Property is not located in this appraisal district or otherwise should not be included on the appraisal district’s record.
  • Exemption denied, modified, or cancelled.
  •  Ag-use, open-space or other special appraisal was denied, modified, or cancelled.
  • Incorrect appraised or market value of land under special appraisal for ag-use, open-space or other special appraisal.
  • Change in use of land appraised as ag-use, open-space or timberland.
  • Owner’s name incorrect.
  • Property description is incorrect.
  • Other

If you have any questions about how to protest your property taxes, we recommend contacting an experienced real estate attorney in your county. They will be able to help you with any specific questions that you may have.

What is the Difference Between Appraised and Market Value?

It is important to understand the difference between appraisal value and market value.

  • Appraisal Value: the county appraisal district’s valuation of your property for tax purposes.
  • Market Value: the actual price that a buyer would be willing to pay for your property in today’s market.

In most cases, appraisal values tend to be lower than market values. However, if your appraisal value is higher than what it should be, you may be paying more taxes than necessary!

What If My Appraisal Report Shows a High Value?

Your Texas appraisal process journey begins with a preliminary informal consultation with an appraiser from your district. As the property owner, you can meet and discuss the appraised value and why you believe a low appraisal value would be more appropriate.

Your home may be one of many taxed homes that never received an in-person appraisal. In many cases, residents don’t know that their tax bill is generated without ever sending an appraiser to assess the worth of their house!

According to Texas Home Appraisers, ” …the ‘proposed value’ of your home is based off of a mass appraisal techniques utilized by each county appraisal district. This practice is common since no appraisal district has the manpower or time available to appraise each and every home individually To manage such a large workload the appraisal district uses a mass appraisal system based on typical property values in your area to appraise your entire neighborhood.”

In other words, if you go through the protest process, the county takes a good look at the appraised value of your home for possibly the first time.

How Can I File an Appraisal Appeal?

If you are looking to make an appraisal appeal and lower your taxes, here are the steps you need to take:

Gather Evidence

You must provide evidence that your appraisal value is incorrect or unfair. This could include information such as recent sales of comparable homes in the area, photos of any damage to your home, etc.

File Notice of Protest

You can file a Notice of Protest with your appraisal district’s Appraisal Review Board (ARB).

The Texas Comptroller provides Form 50-132 to protest your home’s value. However, if you live in Harris county, you’ll want to challenge an appraisal by creating an account with the Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD).

Once your profile is set up and logged in, view your property information carefully – if it appears incorrect or underestimated, apply for a formal protest through HCAD’s online portal!

If you would like to file your protest in person, the appraisal district office is available for a visit during business hours. Once there, complete an appropriate form and have any evidence related to your property ready as well – this will be taken into account by the ARB when deciding whether or not to reduce its appraised value.

ARB’s decision is an answer to your tax appeals. However, if you have a problem with the board’s decision, you can appeal it. Any ARB decision can be appealed to the state district court in the county in which the property is located. Depending on the facts and the type of property, you may be able to appeal to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) or to binding arbitration. (2)

If you have any questions about how to protest your property taxes, we recommend contacting an experienced real estate attorney in your county. They will be able to help you with any specific questions that you may have.

Informal Meeting With Appraiser

If you believe the appraised value is higher than it should be, you’ll need to talk with the district’s appraiser.

You and the appraiser will discuss your evidence and review records in an attempt to resolve the appraisal value of your home. Many homeowners find that the informal hearing is all they need to work through their issues.

However, if you don’t find common ground with the home appraiser, you’ll receive an Appraisal Review Board (ARB) scheduling notice. If you never schedule with the appraiser for the informal hearing, you’ll also receive an Appraisal Review Board scheduling notice. The informal appraisal meeting is not mandatory.

Usually, home appraisers can work with you if your reasons make sense. They also may consider your case, even without an attorney on your side, if your home’s taxable value is much higher than the homes around you.

Property owners who live in the same neighborhood may wish to join forces and make a group appraisal appeal to provide persuasive evidence that the appraisal records of your neighborhood are inaccurate or unfair.

If you can’t resolve the issue with the appraiser assessment, you can schedule with the ARB for your formal hearing. You have the right go through the appeal process and give written notice you dispute their decision. You will need to file an appeal within 30 days of receiving their determination.

Attend ARB Hearing

After you have filed your Notice of Protest, the ARB invites you to attend a hearing. During this meeting, you will present your case and provide evidence that supports why you believe the appraisal value should be lowered.

A tax protest hearing is much like a courtroom in that you present your evidence before a panel, and witnesses may testify. An attorney can help you prepare your case and represent you at the hearing.

Await ARB Decision

Once the hearing has concluded, ARB will make a decision. If they agree with you, you’ll receive a refund of any taxes overpaid as a result. The process of protesting your property taxes usually takes about 30 days. However, it may take longer if you appeal the appraiser’s decision.

Deadlines for Property Taxes

For homestead properties, the early protest deadline is April 30th or 30 days after the date you receive the appraisal district notice of appraised value. Whichever date is later applies.

However, if you miss the new early deadline, you can protest before the regular May 15 deadline. In the case of other real property, such as land and buildings, the protest deadline is May 15.

If HCAD mails your appraised value notice after May 1, you may qualify for a later protest deadline. The May 15 deadline also applies to business and industrial personal property accounts.

Pay Your Taxes On Time to Avoid Foreclosure

We all know foreclosure can happen quickly in Texas. A mortgage lender can foreclose on a borrower within a matter of months. If you’re late on making your property tax payment, beware.

Never make a partial payment thinking the issue is over. And understand how the interest charges you face compound over time!!

If you’re a buyer looking for a home in Texas, pay attention to the property tax amount before you buy! Determine if the amount makes sense and get a few professional appraisals before buying.

Trouble Paying Your Taxes?

Apply for a Property Tax Exemption

The first thing you should look into is the possibility that you’re eligible for a property tax exemption. If you have a limited or low income, there’s a chance you could be approved for a property tax exemption. In addition to having a limited or low income, some other requirements for being approved for a property tax exemption include:

  • Surviving spouse of someone with an exemption and you were at least 57 years old in the year property taxes due.
  • At least 61 years old during the calendar year property taxes due.
  • Unable to work because of a disability in the year property taxes due.
  • Veteran with a disability that occurred from military service.
  • Spouse of a Veteran who died or was disabled due to their military service.

Apply for a Property Tax Deferral

Besides a possible property tax exemption, you may be able to apply for a property tax deferral and delay repayment of your past-due taxes. In order to qualify, you must demonstrate limited or moderate income as well as equity in the home.

If the county approves a property tax deferral, you receive an extension to pay some of your taxes in full at a later date. This postponement can prevent or delay foreclosure on your home. However, eventually, all unpaid taxes must be paid up to avoid future tax foreclosure.

What is a Residence Homestead Exemption?

Do you want to save money on your property taxes in Harris County, Texas? If yes, then applying for a homestead exemption is the way forward!

A homestead exemption tax break can exempt all or part of your home’s value from taxation. Fill out and submit the required forms for this exemption claim procedure with the necessary documents linked below:

Once you’ve submitted the documents, you should receive your homestead exemption within 30 days.

Don’t worry if you missed the deadline to file, as you can submit your exemption at any point throughout the year – even up to two years after.

We Can Help

If you have any questions about how to protest your property taxes in Texas, feel free to reach out to us at The Jarrett Law Firm for a consultation. We’ve successfully represented many individuals in hearings and would be happy to help you successfully lower your payment for tax year 2023!