It’s tax protest time again! If you believe that your tax appraisal is too high (either because of a change in value this year or because your home was overvalued in the past), file a protest!
A tax protest must be filed by May 15, 2020 (or 30 days after you received the notice of the appraised value, whichever is later). You should have received your appraisal from your taxing jurisdiction (generally the appraisal district for the county in which your property is located–Travis County Appraisal District, Williamson County Appraisal District, etc.). If you don’t remember getting it or can’t find it, check your appraisal district’s website to see what your 2020 tax valuation is.
Why protest? Because your taxes are based on the appraised value, even if you have homestead or other exemptions in place. In setting a new value, an appraisal district often looks at the prior year’s value. And when you sell a property that is overvalued, the purchaser is “stuck” with the inflated value until the next year, which — if your property is significantly overvalued — can make it harder to sell. So, if you believe your property is being valued at more than it is worth, then it is in your best interest to protest.
If you bought your property in 2019 and paid less than your appraised value, your protest is generally an easy one. You file your protest (you can even do it online) and use the closing statement form that includes your purchase price (if you can’t find it, let us know) as backup to prove your claim. The district will nearly always lower the appraised value to the purchase price. (Of course, if you are lucky enough to have a tax appraisal that is less than you paid, you may want to stay quiet this year.)
If you bought your property before 2019 and think your appraisal is too high, you have a two options:
- File a protest yourself. Check your appraisal district’s website for online/in person instructions. Be sure to request the information that the Appraiser has used to value your property. Depending on the volume of protests, the taxing authority may schedule an informal hearing, where you can talk to someone and they may offer you a settlement. If you don’t accept a settlement at the informal hearing, you can schedule a formal hearing. If the district is busy, they may skip the informal part and go right to the formal. If you protest yourself, you must explain why your property isn’t worth what they say it is (condition, lot issues etc.) or isn’t worth what the properties the appraisal district is using as comparables. This is not “market” comparables per se, but the specific info used by the tax authority.
- Use a tax protest service or hire a flat-fee protest service. The services do all of the leg work and go to the hearings on your behalf. Some services charge a percentage of the tax savings (not the change in appraised value); if you don’t save on your taxes, you will not be charged! The flat-fee services are just that–you pay the fee regardless of the outcome (it can be lower than the percentage approach or higher, but is always certain). Mishell always uses a service because, honestly, she finds protesting to be a pain and very time consuming. Many good services are out there. Mishell uses Five Stone Tax Advisers. But other folks have used Texas Pro Tax or O’Connor and information for most of Moxie’s client appraisal districts are here:
- Travis County Appraisal District
- Williamson County Appraisal District
- Hays County Appraisal District
- Bastrop County Appraisal District
- Caldwell County Appraisal District
- Comal County Appraisal District
- Guadalupe Appraisal District
Also, the deadline to file your homestead exemption if you live in your property was April 30, 2020, but even if it is late, file it. You may also be eligible for other exemptions – check!
Feel free to share this information—encourage your friends and neighbors to protest if they have seen an unfair hike. The system only works if we use it.
As always, if you have questions or need help, the Moxie Ladies are here for you!