How to Protest Your Property Appraisal in Texas
There are a number of reasons that you can protest your appraisal:
- If you believe the value assigned to your home by the County Appraisal District is incorrect (this is the most common reason)
- If you believe the County Appraisal District appraised your home at a higher portion of its value than most properties
- If the chief appraiser denied an exemption application
- If the Central Appraisal District failed to provide notice that the value of your home changed
If you wish to protest your appraisal for any reason, you must file a protest by May 31st or thirty days from the date the appraisal district notice was delivered, whichever is later. You will receive a written notice of the date, time and place for a formal hearing with the Appraisal Review Board (ARB).
IMPORTANT: Even if you feel that you can resolve your dispute through the informal process, you must file the protest to protect your right to appear before the ARB to present your case.
First Option: An Informal Hearing with Appraisal Staff
Before your formal hearing with ARB, you can possibly resolve your dispute through an informal meeting with the county appraisal staff. I highly recommend doing this, because it will save you significant time and effort.
In the case of an informal hearing, you and the appraisal review staff will come to terms and sign a document stating that you have made an agreement on value and will not need the ARB hearing. I have found the appraisal staff in Collin, Dallas, Fannin and Grayson Counties to be reasonable and easy to deal with, IF YOU PREPARE YOUR CASE WELL.
Before you go to your informal hearing, do the following:
- Review the property description that the county has for your property including the square footage. You can find how the county describes your property on the County’s appraisal district website. Print off this page and circle any inaccuracies. Remember, the County Appraisal District takes measurements from the outside of your home – not the inside.
- Document any defects in your property that occurred prior to January 1. For example, take pictures of foundation cracks or other deficiencies. Bring reports, engineer’s report and estimates from contractors on the cost to remedy the defects. If you had a loss from a fire prior to January 1, give the ARB a copy of the fire report. If you made repairs to the property after January 1, bring those receipts.
- If you are aware of any arms-length sales that the county would not have record of (for instance, something that did not sell through a REALTOR®), get documents or sworn statements from a person involved in that sale providing sales information.
- Ask a REALTOR® or appraiser to check sales activity of properties similar to yours (location, size, construction, age) that occurred closest to January 1. You will need printouts of this data to take with you to the informal hearing.
You do not need an appointment for an informal hearing. Simply prepare your case and go to the County Appraisal District Office. The front desk attendant will direct you to the appropriate office. Once you are called to speak with an appraiser, present your case following these simple guidelines:
- DO – Talk clearly and efficiently. Be persuasive, but stick to the facts. Be prepared to leave copies of your evidence with the appraiser.
- DO NOT – Appeal to emotion. Do not argue that your taxes are too high or talk about your inability to pay. Remember, the appraiser is there only to discuss the value assessed to your home.
After arguing your case, you and the appraiser will hopefully come to an agreement. He/she will prepare a document for you to sign that specifies the value at which you both agree. When you sign this document, you are waiving your right to appear in front of the ARB.
If you are NOT able to agree on a suitable appraisal for your property, you can still appear before the ARB. Ask the appraiser before you leave the informal session to provide you with:
- An explanation on how they arrived at the appraised value they did.
- Records of similar properties in the area to learn if similar properties are treated equally.
- All information that is used to set the value of your property. The appraisal district must give you the opportunity to inspect information, even if the information would normally be considered confidential.
- The data, schedules, formulas and any other information that the appraisal district plans to introduce at the hearing.
Second Option: Formal Hearing with the Appraisal Review Board
Before you appear before the ARB, I highly recommend that you consult a professional who understands the appraisal process. Let this person review the comparable sales that the county is using and compare them with the sales that you are using. Determine why the sales that you have chosen are better indicators of value than those the County Appraisal District have chosen.
The ARB is an impartial panel composed of people who live in the county. You will need to appear before the ARB at the date and time specified in the notice you receive from the county. By failing to appear at the specified time, you waive your right to protest the value. However, the ARB is required to provide you with evening and weekend appointments if you request them.
At the hearing, both the taxpayer and the chief appraiser will present their cases. The hearing is a formal process covered by rules and procedures. You should receive a pamphlet explaining the ARB procedures before you appear. You can also review the Texas Administrative Code here. Be sure to read and understand these procedures carefully.
If the amount in dispute is substantial, you may wish to employ the help of a property tax consultant. You can find a list of licensed consultants here. If you choose to have someone else represent you at this hearing, you will need to complete an Appointment of Agent for Property Taxes form (Form 50-162).
Appealing the Appraisal Review Board Decision
Once the ARB rules, it sends it findings via certified mail. If you are dissatisfied with the findings, you have the right to appeal to district court in the county where the property is located. You have sixty days once you receive the ARB findings to file a petition for review by the district court. You must make a partial payment of the taxes – usually the amount of taxes that aren’t in dispute – before the delinquency date.
An alternative to filing in district court is filing an appeal through binding arbitration. In order to use this venue, the only issue in dispute is the appraised or market value of the property. You must request binding arbitration within 45 days of the date when you receive the ARB’s findings.
When requesting this remedy, you must pay a $500 deposit for standard arbitration of $250 for expedited arbitration. The Comptroller’s office will submit to you and the County Appraisal Board a list of registered arbitrators who can hear your case. You and the County Appraisal Board mutually select an arbitrator. If the arbitrator’s value decision is closer to the value you claim to be correct, then 90% of your deposit is returned to you. The appraisal district pays the arbitrators fee. If the arbitrator’s value decision is closer to the appraisal district’s value, then the arbitrator’s fee is paid from your deposit.
If you have more questions regarding the protest process, please Contact Me.