Property Taxes 101: How can you protest the value of your home?
There’s still time.
Homeowners who believe their property tax value is too high have until May 15 to protest.
“It only helps and can’t hurt,” said Chandler Crouch, a real estate agent who helps people with their protests for free. “It doesn’t hurt your resale value. In fact, it may actually benefit you by reducing the tax burden for the buyer.
“Also, contrary to popular belief, the cities, county, and school district will receive the same amount of tax revenue whether you protest or not. You truly don’t hurt anyone by protesting. It is purely beneficial.”
More than 655,000 appraisal notices, similar to the number sent out in 2018, have been mailed out this year, said Jeff Law, chief appraiser for the Tarrant Appraisal District.
Last year, there were around 148,000 protests.
So far, 62,000 protests have been filed, and 65% of those cases have been resolved, Law said.
“We still encourage anyone that feels we are not taking all aspects of their property into account when we do our mass appraisal work to come see us,” he said.
How to protest
The appraisal you’ve received in the mail is not a bill.
Cities, counties, school districts and other taxing entities still have to set tax rates that will be used to calculate tax bills later in the year. After that, tax assessor collectors will send tax bills in October — and payments will be made to those offices.
“We do not collect taxes,” Law said.
The Tarrant Appraisal District sets property values and handles protests by homeowners who believe those values are too high.
There are several ways to protest.
One is to send in the form that comes in the mail with your appraisal. Just make sure you fill everything out and get it in the mail by May 15. A hearing date will be scheduled for appraisers to consider your case.
You can also file a protest online at tad.org.
TAD has an automated system online that may offer you a lower value than the one listed online. Or it might approve a lower value that you suggest for your home.
As of May 1, 18,000 protests were settled online, compared with 8,000 through the same time period last year, Tarrant Appraisal District records show.
Homeowners also may call the Tarrant Appraisal District to talk to appraisers and see if they are willing to lower the home value.
“The majority of people that try will actually win,” Crouch said.
Crouch, who expects to handle around 15,000 protests this year, offers a few tips.
It’s key to know, he said, that while some counties consider cosmetic issues on houses, such as carpeting or paint or fencing, Tarrant County won’t.
So the best option is to focus on key issues such as plumbing, electrical, roof, foundation or structural issues, he said.
Law suggests that protesters come prepared — bring photos, repair estimates, closing documents, mortgage loan appraisals and any other data that can prove your point.
Crouch said you you can even show what houses similar to yours in your neighborhood have been selling for if those values are less than the appraisal district believes your home is worth.
“The best way to learn is to watch other protests,” Crouch said. “Anyone is allowed to go watch anyone else’s protest. Just drive down to the appraisal district and ask to observe a protest.”
State lawmakers are working on a variety of proposals they hope will bring relief to property owners, but it remains to be seen what plan they will agree upon. Texas lawmakers have until May 27 to pass new laws.
Crouch worked with state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, on a bill that would make appraisals and protests more transparent.
Krause’s plan calls for a better notification process about exemptions, provides homeowners with more resources (such as a list of those who help with property value protests for free) and makes sure homeowners know if a homestead exemption is not in place on their property.
“We can no longer sit idly by while property owners are reduced to tenants of their own property with taxing authorities playing the role of landlord,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said during his State of the State address earlier this year. “Our constituents are counting on us.”