Appealing Taxes For Your Home The Basics

Appealing taxes for your home - the​ Basics
Property taxes are a​ substantial expense for Texas homeowners,​ averaging about $3,​600 annually .​
To reduce this expense,​ property owners should annually review and consider appealing property taxes .​
While there is​ no guarantee that an​ appeal will be successful,​ a​ recent survey conducted by O'Connor & Associates indicates that 70% of​ property tax appeals are successful .​
Since the​ mortgage company typically disperses payments,​ property taxes tend to​ be a​ stealth tax .​
Although the​ homeowner writes a​ check,​ including taxes and insurance monthly,​ the​ property tax component is​ not evident .​
The property tax component can become quite evident when the​ homeowner is​ asked to​ fund a​ deficit in​ the​ escrow account .​
Although 70% of​ property tax appeals are successful,​ only 7% of​ homeowners appeal each year .​
Research indicates five primary reasons homeowners do not appeal:
1. The process seems overwhelming and they do not know how to​ appeal,​
2. They do not think an​ appeal is​ likely to​ be successful,​
3. They think their home's assessed value is​ below market value and there is​ no basis for appealing,​
4. They do not understand they can appeal on​ unequal appraisal,​
5. They are busy and do not want to​ set aside time,​ given the​ presumption that you​ can't fight city hall.
Why appeal?
Consider an​ appeal for a​ $150,​000 house where the​ property taxes are reduced by 5% .​
This would reduce the​ assessed value by $7,​500 and the​ property taxes by $225,​ based on​ a​ 3% tax rate .​
Since the​ typical appeal hearing takes less than an​ hour,​ these are meaningful savings for the​ time involved .​
Regularly appealing your property taxes will minimize the​ value,​ so you​ are assessed for less than most of​ your neighbors .​
Most of​ the​ property tax appeals are resolved at​ the​ informal hearing,​ which is​ the​ first step in​ the​ process .​
How to​ appeal
The first step to​ appealing annually is​ to​ send a​ written notice to​ the​ appraisal review board (ARB) for the​ county in​ which your home is​ located .​
Even if​ you​ have not received a​ notice of​ assessed value from the​ appraisal district,​ file a​ notice of​ appeal by May 31st for the​ following reasons:
1. The notice of​ assessed value can get lost in​ the​ mail,​
2. A notice of​ assessed value is​ not necessary unless your assessed value increases by $1,​000,​ and
3. You should appeal annually
You can file a​ notice of​ appeal by utilizing the​ Comptroller's form available at​ or​ by sending a​ letter to​ the​ ARB .​
The letter to​ the​ ARB simply needs to​ identify the​ property being appealed and the​ basis for your appeal .​
You should always appeal on​ both market value and unequal appraisal .​
Since the​ appraisal district staff is​ extremely busy during late May and early June,​ sending any data on​ the​ value of​ your property tax is​ probably a​ waste of​ time .​
At the​ same time you​ send your notice of​ appeal to​ the​ ARB,​ send a​ House Bill 201 request to​ the​ chief appraiser at​ the​ appraisal district .​
The House Bill 201 request will provide you​ a​ volume of​ information at​ a​ modest price .​
Reasons for obtaining House Bill 201 information
Since most homeowners are not familiar with House Bill 201,​ you​ may be wondering what it​ is​ and when it​ became available .​
House Bill 201 is​ the​ term used by property tax consultants to​ describe provision 41.461 of​ the​ Texas Property Tax Code .​
This section reads as​ follows:
at least 14 days before hearing on​ a​ protest,​ the​ chief appraiser shall: … inform the​ property owner that the​ owner or​ the​ agent of​ the​ owner may inspect and may obtain a​ copy of​ the​ data,​ schedules,​ formulas,​ and all other information the​ chief appraiser plans to​ introduce at​ the​ hearing to​ establish any matter at​ issue.
The property tax code further provides the​ chief appraiser the​ right to​ charge up to​ $15 for each residence,​ and up to​ $25 for each commercial property owner for this information .​
However,​ there are limits on​ the​ cost per page an​ appraisal district can charge .​
Practically speaking,​ the​ maximum charge is​ $1 to​ $2 for a​ residence .​
In Harris County,​ most homeowners can print this information from the​ appraisal district's web site once an​ appeal has been filed using the​ I​ file system .​
This section of​ the​ tax code was added in​ 1991,​ but many appraisal districts have attempted to​ ignore this section of​ the​ property tax code for years and some still do .​
After discussing this section of​ the​ Texas Property Tax Code on​ a​ radio show in​ 2018,​ several listeners called back a​ week or​ two later to​ report certain appraisal districts were claiming to​ be unaware of​ this section .​
When O'Connor & Associates sent House Bill 201 requests to​ appraisal districts in​ 2018,​ some called us and said what do you​ mean you​ want our information,​ we plan to​ use your information at​ the​ hearing to​ prove our value .​
While these examples seem quaint and cute,​ it​ is​ surprising that 15 years after taxpayer friendly legislation has been passed,​ that appraisal districts are still ignoring property owners and tax consultants who ask for this information .​
There are at​ least seven reasons to​ utilize House Bill 201 to​ obtain the​ information the​ appraisal district will use at​ the​ hearing:
1. It is​ an​ effective way to​ obtain information regarding both market value and unequal appraisal for your property tax appeal,​
2. You will receive the​ appraisal district's information regarding the​ size,​ condition and other qualitative and quantitative data for your house,​
3. The information can be obtained for a​ nominal cost,​
4. It is​ helpful to​ know what information your adversary will be able to​ use at​ the​ hearing,​
5. Making the​ request limits what information the​ appraisal district can present at​ the​ hearing .​
If you​ do not request their information prior to​ the​ hearing,​ they can use any information available to​ them at​ the​ hearing .​
However,​ if​ you​ request the​ appraisal district information using a​ House Bill 201 request,​ they may only use information previously provided to​ you,​
6. If they do not provide you​ information on​ market value or​ unequal appraisal in​ the​ House Bill 201 request,​ you​ win by default at​ the​ ARB hearing,​ and
7. In many cases,​ the​ appraisal district House Bill 201 information clearly supports a​ lower value.
Preparing for the​ hearing
When you​ receive the​ appraisal district House Bill 201 information,​ start by reviewing the​ appraisal district's description of​ your home and ask yourself these questions:
1. Is the​ year built accurate?
2. Are the​ qualities and amenities accurate?
If the​ appraisal district overstates either the​ quantity or​ quality of​ improvements to​ your property,​ this is​ an​ excellent means to​ reduce your property taxes both for the​ current year and subsequent years .​
Filing a​ 2525c Appeal
If the​ appraisal district has overstated the​ size of​ your house by more than 5% to​ 10%,​ even if​ you​ did not file a​ property tax appeal in​ prior years,​ you​ should consider filing a​ 2525c appeal .​
This will allow you​ to​ reduce the​ assessed value of​ your property for the​ current year and for prior years .​
Read more about Preparing for the​ Hearing.
and the​ Hearing Process at​

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