Speak now, or forever hold your value …

It’s been several weeks since TCAD started bludgeoning area homeowners with elevated property tax assessments. The dramatic increases in valuation were expected to bring a concomitant increase in protests, but I suspect a lot of intended challenges languished while owners sought counseling or medication to deal with the sudden cost of living increase.

If your protest form is still sitting at the bottom of a “to do” pile, you have 24 hours to dig it out. To appeal your assessment, you must submit a written protest [.pdf] to the appraisal review board (ARB) by May 31st. There’s some leeway if you received the tax notice late or your dog ate the form, but just get the protest in already. After the deadline passes, you’ll just have to bask in the glow of regional prosperity and your newfound property windfall until next year’s ankle-grab.

Meeting the protest deadline is half the challenge, but the other half is actually supplying a good case for the ARB to lower your assessment. Valuations are clearly made using blanket assumptions and very little on-site observation, so there’s often a basis for arguing against the assessment. But no matter how satisfying it might feel, your righteous indignation and polemics about the inequities of rising housing costs aren’t likely to result in a successful protest; valid comps will. Be prepared to do some homework.

For anyone that has challenged the TCAD assessment, what did you present at the hearing? What made the protest successful, or not?

Update: The anti-tax folks at Lone Star Times have some comprehensive advice about protesting your appraisal, with links to an Excel template. You’ll also find out that John Kerry has yet to release his military records, just in case you like to get frothy about failed Presidential candidates while lowering your property taxes.

4 Comments so far

  1. M1EK (unregistered) on May 30th, 2006 @ 10:43 am

    Does anybody have a recommendation for how to actually _get_ the actual sales prices of real homes in your area, since this information is not public in Texas? Every single site which advises on property tax protest bases their entire strategy on these comps, yet I’ve never seen a way to get them other than to buddy up to a realtor.

  2. ttrentham (unregistered) on May 30th, 2006 @ 11:25 am

    I’m wondering this myself. There’s a place for sale in my neighborhood and I’d love to know the actual sale price once it’s sold.

    Appraisers have access to the information, since they use it as part of the appraisal process. Where do they get their information? I can see protecting the sale price during negotiations, but what’s the rationale for protecting it once the sale is completed? Is it illegal to disclose or is it just not done in practice?

  3. Matt Bramanti (unregistered) on May 30th, 2006 @ 11:33 am

    Hey guys, here’s how you get the info. When you file your protest, state that you want to see the evidence TCAD is going to use, pursuant to House Bill 201.

    By law, the appraisal district has to give you everything they’re going to use in the hearing. If they don’t provide you something ahead of time, they can’t use it in the hearing. This information usually includes the sales prices of most sold properties in the neighborhood.

    Good luck, guys.

  4. omit (unregistered) on May 31st, 2006 @ 1:28 pm

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