Are you paying too much in property taxes?
Eilleen Sabillon
Coldwell Banker United, REALTORS®

(512) 963-6521

If you think you are paying too much in property taxes follow these five steps to challenge your assessment:

1. Decide if an appeal is worth your time. 

How much effort you decide to put into a challenge depends on the stakes. The median property tax paid in 2012, the latest available figure, was about $2,000. That’s about 1% of the roughly $200,000 median-value home. 

Say you’re able to lower your assessed value by 15% to $170,000 and therefore save 15% on your property tax. That lowers your tax bill to about $1,700, a net savings of about $300. 

In some parts of Texas, for example, where tax rates can approach 3% of a home’s value, potential savings are greater. Ditto for communities with home prices well above the U.S. median.

2. Check the data.

Make sure the information about your home is correct. review the Central Appraisal District's website. Do a propert search and review the property information such as lot size, amenities, sq footage, etc. You can go to the district office to obtain the complete record card, however, you can probably review most of the basic information on the appraisal district's website. Errors in the record card are a sound basis for a protest. 

3. Get the “comps.”

A REALTOR® like myself can provide comparable properties — “comps” in real estate jargon — that have sold, I can find comparable properties that are very similar to your own in terms of size, style, condition, and location, keep in mind that the appraisal district may come back with comps of their own. If you’re willing to pay between $350 - $600, you can hire an appraiser to give you a professional opinion of your home’s value. 

Once you identify comps, check the assessments on those properties. Most local governments maintain public databases. If the assessments on your comps are lower, you can argue yours is too high. 

4. Present your case.

Texas property tax appeals can be filed using the forms provided by the appraisal district, otherwise send a short letter to the chief appraiser at the central appraisal district stating that you are protesting your property taxes. You should indicate the basis is both assessed value over market value and equal appraisal. The deadline to file a protest is May 31, or 30 days after notice of your assessed value is mailed to you, whichever is later. Though time consuming you may protest annually to minimize your property taxes.

Journey through the Legal Avenues

  • Informal Hearing
    After filing a protest you will be notified of a date and time to attend a hearing. This meeting is conducted with a staff appraiser at the appraisal district office. It typically lasts 15-20 minutes. At its conclusion the appraiser will either indicate he cannot make an adjustment, or he will offer to settle by establishing lower assessment. In Texas, most residential property tax appeals are resolved at the informal hearing.

  • Appraisal Review Board Hearing
    This is sometimes called a formal or ARB hearing. Participants include three members of the appraisal review board, a staff appraiser from the appraisal district, a hearing clerk (at some counties) and the property owner or their agent. The property owner or his agent and the district's appraiser will separately present the evidence to support their opinions of the market value and unequal appraisal for the subject property. Afterward, the board members will announce its conclusion, which is not subject to negotiation. However, their decision can be appealed in a Texas district court if a lawsuit is filed against the county appraisal district to further appeal the property taxes .

  • Litigation
    While the results of informal hearings are final for the tax year and cannot be appealed through a lawsuit, the results determined at the appraisal review board hearing can be appealed to district court. Before making a decision to do so, the owner should consider the amounts of any potential tax savings, legal costs and expert witness costs. In Texas, most judicial appeals of property tax assessments are successful.