May 26th 2011
There are many reasons for homeowners to protest their property taxes, from inaccurate county data, a decline in values within your market area, or simply due to the county property tax office raising taxes each year without cause. Unfortunately, despite whatever evidence you bring, you are never on a level playing field when meeting with the county tax assessors. The exception is if you have, in hand, a real estate appraisal that has been performed explicitly for the purposes of disputing property tax.
If you live in Travis County or Williamson County then you are especially susceptible to over-taxation by the appraisal district. If you’ve paid attention to your real estate tax bill over the last few years, you may notice a trend of increased valuation of your property each year by as much as 10% on primary residences. This 10% is actually the most they are allowed to increase your real estate taxes if a property has a homestead exemption. These increases are evident even in market areas that have clearly declined over the last few years. It is for this very reason that it is imperative for all Travis and Williamson county homeowners to protest their tax bill at least every three years. The results of a lowered assessed value can be felt for many years AFTER a successful tax appeal due to the fact that they can only go up 10% MAX every year.
Let’s look at an example: Say your home is assessed by the county appraisal district at $250,000 in 2009. If you appealed the tax valuation and had the value lowered to $225,000 AND the property has a homestead exemption, then in 2010 the assessed value could be raised to $247,500 at MOST. And that is using the max percentage, 10%, that the county is allowed to increase your property values by. Had you not protested in 2009 year, your 2010 value could have very well been $275,000. So in actuality, you save a good deal of money for years to come just be protest the value down to $225k in 2009. It’s for this reason that we recommend everyone protest at least every three years!
Tax dispute appraisals are performed a little differently than a standard appraisal and require that the appraisal report be written by an appraiser that is experienced with such types of assignments. For example, an experienced tax appeal appraiser knows that the appraisal must be retrospective to Jan. 1st of the year in protest. In other words, the appraisal will be what the value of the home was on January 1st of the protest year, not the current value. Secondly, an experienced appraiser knows how to indicate declining trends and other market statistics that prove a weakening real estate market within an area. Appraisers also know the “lingo” and can use verbiage that would be otherwise foreign to an average person. Another unknown caveat is that most counties require the appraisal to be printed, signed and notarized before being shown as evidence. These are just some of the important aspects of tax protests that you and your appraiser must know to present a compelling case.
When appearing at an informal or formal tax protest hearing, the first thing the county appraiser or appraisal board will ask you is, “Do You Have an Appraisal?”
General decline in values
Above average number of foreclosures in the Market Area
Above average Days on Market for real estate listings
Incorrect county data such as square footage of the home
External influences that may affect values such as a busy roads or rezoning
Interim construction, renovations or other work that is incomplete
Our appraisers have performed hundreds of tax protests appraisals over the years across numerous Texas counties. Currently specialize in Travis County Tax Protest Appraisals and Williamson County Tax Protest Appraisals.