Property Taxpayer Remedies

Property Taxpayer Remedies

January 1, 2023

Property Tax Assistance

You are entitled to an explanation of the remedies available to you when you are not satisfied with the appraised value of your property. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts is required to publish an explanation of the remedies available to taxpayers and procedures to be followed in seeking remedial action. The Comptroller’s office also must include advice on preparing and presenting a protest.

The Tax Code further directs that copies of this document be made readily available to taxpayers at no cost. The chief appraiser of an appraisal district may provide it with the Notice of  appraised Value mailed to property owners to explain the deadlines and procedures used in protesting the value of their property. The chief appraiser must provide another copy to property owners initiating protests. The first step in exercising your rights under the Tax Code is to protest your property’s appraised value. The following remedies only address appraised values and related matters. Government spending and taxation are not the subjects of this publication and must be addressed by local taxing units.

How to Protest Property Value

Appraisal districts must send required notices by May 1, or by April 1 if your property is a residential homestead, or as soon as practical thereafter. The notice must separate the appraised value of real and personal property. If the appraised value increased, the notice must show an estimate of how much tax you would have to pay based on the same tax rate your city, county, school district and any special purpose district set the previous year. The notice will also include the date and place the appraisal review board (ARB) will begin hearing protests and may tell you whether your appraisal district has an informal meeting process to resolve your concerns. If you are dissatisfied with your appraised value or if errors exist in the appraisal records regarding your property, you should file a Notice of Protest with the ARB. If an appraisal district has an Internet website, it must permit electronic filing of a protest for excessive appraisal or unequal appraisal of property for which a residence homestead exemption has been granted, with certain exceptions. Counties with populations of 500,000 or more are required to do so and thus must have a website. Contact your lo cal appraisal district for more details on filing a protest electronically.

What Can be Protested

The Notice of Protest may be filed using the model form on the Comptroller’s website: comptroller.texas.gov/forms/50-132.pdf. The notice need not be on this form. Your notice of protest is sufficient if it identifies (1) the protesting person claiming an ownership interest in the property, (2) the property that is the subject of the protest and (3) dissatisfaction with a determination of the appraisal district. You may request the ARB to schedule hearings on protests to be held consecutively concerning up to 20 designated properties on the same day. You may use a special notice on the Comptroller’s website: comptroller.texas.gov/forms/50-131.pdf. You may protest the value on your property in the following situations:

• the value the appraisal district placed on your property is too high;

• your property is unequally appraised;

• the appraisal district denied a special appraisal, such as open-space land, or incorrectly denied your exemption application;

• the appraisal district failed to provide you with required notices; or

• other matters prescribed by Tax Code Section 41.41(a).

How to Complete the Protest Form

If using the protest form, these tips will help ensure that you can present your evidence and preserve your appeal rights.

• You should pay particular attention to the reason for protest section of the form.

• What you check as the reason for the protest influences the type of evidence you may present at your hearing.

• Your appeal options after the hearing are influenced by what you protest.

In the case of a typical residential property, checking both over market value and unequal appraisal will allow you to present the widest types of evidence and preserve your full appeal rights.

How to Resolve Concerns Informally

Many appraisal districts will informally review
your concerns with you and try to resolve your
objections. It is very important, however, that
you preserve your right to protest to the ARB by
filing your Notice of Protest before the deadline,
even if you expect to resolve your concerns at the
informal meeting with the appraisal district.
Find out the process your appraisal district
follows. Try to discuss your protest issue with
the appraisal office in advance. Ask one of the
appraisal district’s appraisers to explain how
the district arrived at the value of your property. Be sure the property description is correct
and that the measurements for your home or
business and lot are accurate. Many appraisal
districts have this information online.
What is an ARB?
The ARB is an independent, impartial group of
citizens authorized to resolve disputes between
taxpayers and the appraisal district. It is not
controlled by the appraisal district. In counties
with 120,000 or more population, the local
administrative district judge appoints appraisal
review board members. Otherwise, the appraisal district’s board of directors appoints them.
The ARB must follow certain procedures that
may be unfamiliar to you. It must base its decisions on facts it hears from you and the appraisal district to decide whether the appraisal
district has acted properly in determining the
value of your property.
ARB members cannot discuss your case with
anyone outside of the hearing. Protest hearings, however, are open to the public and anyone can sit in and listen to the case. A closed
hearing is allowed on the joint motion of the
property owner and chief appraiser if either
intends to disclose proprietary or confidential
information at the hearing.
When are Protests Filed?
You should file your Notice of Protest with the
ARB no later than 30 days after the appraisal
district mailed the Notice of Appraised Value.
You may request an evening or Saturday hearing. The ARB will notify you at least 15 days
in advance of the date, time and place of your
hearing. Under certain circumstances, you
may be entitled to a postponement of the
hearing to a later date. The ARB begins hearings around May 15 and generally completes
them by July 20. Start and end dates can vary
from appraisal district to appraisal district.
At least 14 days before your protest hearing, the
appraisal district will mail a copy of this pamphlet; a copy of the ARB procedures; and a statement that you may request a copy of the data,
schedules, formulas and any other information
the chief appraiser will introduce at your hearing.
You or your agent may appear at the ARB hearing in person, by telephone conference call or
by filing a written affidavit. To appear by telephone conference call, you must provide written notice at least 10 days before the hearing,
and any evidence must be submitted by written
2 Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts • Property Tax Assistance Division
Property Taxpayer Remedies
affidavit delivered to the ARB before the hearing begins. If you fail to appear, you may lose
the right to be heard by the ARB on the protest
and the right to appeal. If you or your agent
fails to appear at a hearing, you are entitled to a
new hearing if you file with the ARB, not later
than four days after your hearing date, a written
statement showing good cause for failing to appear and request a new hearing. Good cause is
defined as a reason that includes an error or mistake that was not intentional or was not the result of conscious indifference and will not cause
undue delay or injury to the person authorized
to extend the deadline or grant a rescheduling.
What Steps to Take to Prepare for
Protest Hearing
You should consult with the appraisal district
staff about your property’s value. Ask questions
about items you do not understand. The appraisal district is required to provide copies of
documents that you request, at no charge via
first class mail or electronically by agreement.
Many appraisal districts provide a great deal of
information on their websites at no charge.
If you are protesting the appraisal of your home
or small business, you can view videos on the
topic on the Comptroller’s website at comptroller.
texas.gov/taxes/property-tax/.
Observing the following tips can also help in
achieving a successful appeal:
• Be on time and prepared for your hearing. The
ARB may place time limits on hearings.
• Stick to the facts and avoid emotional pleas.
The ARB has no control over the appraisal
district’s operations or budget, tax rates for
local taxing units, inflation or local politics;
addressing these topics in your presentation
wastes time and will not help your case.
• Review the ARB hearing procedures. After
you receive the ARB hearing procedures,
take time to become thoroughly familiar
with them and be prepared to follow them.
• Present your information in a simple and
well-organized manner. You and the appraisal district staff are required to exchange
evidence at or before the hearing. Photographs and other documents are useful.
You should take an appropriate number of
copies so that each ARB member and the
appraisal district representative receive one.
The date of your appraisal is Jan. 1, so you
should make sure that changes made before that
date are included in the appraisal. Improvements
or damage to your property after Jan. 1 should
not be part of the appraisal or the protest.
If you are protesting the value of business
property or other appraisal matters, you should
have evidence to support your opinion of value.
Sales data may not be available or relevant, but
income and expense information may be useful.
Generally, the appraisal district has the burden of proof in value and unequal appraisal
disputes. An appraiser’s job is to appraise property at its market value, equitably and
uniformly.
What if you are Dissatisfied with the
ARB’s Decision
After the ARB rules on your protest, it will
send a written order by certified mail. If you
are dissatisfied with the ARB’s findings, you
have the right to appeal the decision. Depending on the facts and type of property, you may
be able to appeal to the state district court in
the county in which your property is located;
to binding arbitration; or to the State Office of
Administrative Hearings (SOAH).
You may appeal through binding arbitration
if your property is valued at $5 million or less.
You may also use binding arbitration for your
residence homestead regardless of its appraised
value. To request binding arbitration, you must
file a Request for Binding Arbitration form with
the appraisal district, along with a deposit check
payable to the Comptroller of Public Accounts.
The deposit amount ranges from $450 to $1,550
based on the property type and value. All but
$50 of your deposit will be refunded to you if
the arbitrator sets your value at an amount closer
to your opinion of value than to the ARB’s value.
If not, the deposit is used to pay the arbitrator’s
fee. You must exercise the arbitration option not
later than 60 days after the date you receive the
ARB’s notice of its decision. There are limits to
what can be appealed to binding arbitration.
Information about what is allowed to be appealed through arbitration can be found on the
Comptroller’s website at comptroller.texas.gov/
taxes/property-tax/arbitration/.
Property owners may also appeal ARB orders for
real or personal properties with values of more
than $1 million to SOAH. To appeal, you file a
notice with the chief appraiser not later than 30
days after the date you receive the ARB’s notice
of its decision and file a $1,500 deposit not later
than the 90th day after you receive the ARB’s
notice of the order. The administrative law judge
will schedule the hearing in the municipality
where the property is located unless SOAH does
not have a remote hearing site in that municipality. In which case, the hearing will be scheduled
in the municipality with a remote hearing site
that is closest to the subject property.
Alternatively, you may appeal the decision to
the state district court in which your property is
located. You must file the appeal no later than
60 days after you receive the final ARB order.
In all types of appeals, you are required to pay a
specified portion of your taxes before the delinquency date.
What is the Comptroller’s role in the
protest process?
The Comptroller’s office provides a survey for
property owners to offer feedback on the ARB
experience, that may be submitted by mail or
electronically. The online survey is available
at surveymonkey.com/r/surveyarb. Survey
results are published in an annual report. The
Comptroller’s office does not, however, have
oversight responsibility over the ARB and has
no authority to investigate complaints about
the ARB. Any complaints about the ARB or its
members should be directed to the ARB itself,
the appraisal district board of directors or the
local administrative district judge in counties
with 120,000 or more population. The Comptroller’s office has no direct involvement in the
protest process.
Further, this pamphlet is intended to provide
customer assistance to taxpayers. It does not
address all aspects of property tax law or the
appraisal process. The Comptroller’s office is
not offering legal advice, and this information
neither constitutes nor serves as a substitute for
legal advice. Questions regarding the meaning
or interpretation of statutes, notice requirements and other matters should be directed to
an attorney or other appropriate counsel.
Where can you get more information?
This publication does not cover all aspects of
the ARB protest process or property taxes. For
more information, please see the following Web
resources:
• Appraisal Protests and Appeals;
• Appraisal Review Board Manual;
• Paying Your Taxes;
• Property Tax System Basics;
• Taxpayer Bill of Rights;
• Texas Property Tax Code; and
• Valuing Property.
This information is found on the Comptroller’s
Property Tax Assistance website. It provides
property owners a wealth of information on the
appraisal and protest process at comptroller.
texas.gov/taxes/property-tax/. For specific inquiries, you must contact the appraisal district
where your property is located.
Property Tax Assistance Division
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Publication #96-295. Revised January 2020.
For additional copies visit our website:
comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/property-tax/
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