Texas has no state income tax, but we do have some of the highest property tax rates in the country. Your tax rates are set by the governing bodies of the applicable taxing jurisdictions for your property. Property taxes help pay for local services including schools, streets and roads, police and fire protection and many others. Counties, cities, school districts and utilities determine the tax rate each year based on budgetary needs. Home values are assessed by the county. As values rise, so do the property taxes you pay. With dramatic increases in growth locally, there are more people utilizing services. More schools that need to be built and maintained. And more infrastructure that needs to be built and maintained.
Austin has seen some crazy growth these past couple years and appraisal districts have been increasing values just as quickly. But these increases may not reflect your home. Just because you can sell it for the appraised value or more, don’t be afraid to protest. Especially if you are a long time resident and/or have major maintenance issues that need to be done. There may be property tax protections for you if you are a senior, disabled or a veteran or spouse of a veteran.
Read more from Williamson County Central Appraisal District
Read more from Travis County Central Appraisal District
Steps For Protesting Property Tax:
1: File protest in your county, before the deadline. This can be started online in Williamson County by going to your property profile at www.wcad.org
2: Protest both market value and assessed value – you don’t know which one will be your winning argument.
3: Request CAD evidence packet from district along with field card from the appraiser. Williamson County has been sending this with the Notice. The field card allows you to see what the appraiser reported on your property and you can compare it with the evidence you collect. You need to know what they are comparing your home to, in order to understand their valuation. They can be wrong and miss things. Also, the condition of your home compared to others may be an unknown. If you have a lot of repairs needed, older roof, older HVAC, original windows etc. you may be able to argue on condition compared to others. It takes some effort and research to make a good case, but if you think you have a case, definitely go make it!
After you file your property tax protest you can start the informal process by setting up a virtual appointment with your county’s appraisal district appraiser. During this you can present your evidence on why you think the market value and/or assessed value is wrong. You’ll want to do your research before hand and come with all the facts. Unfortunately, real estate agent can not give comps unless they get permission from every owner of the home.
Other forms of evidence that can help your case are: making your own market and equity analysis, engineer’s report citing problems, and expert’s opinion like estimates from contractors for major repairs needed. Gathering all the information and coming with a well thought out explanation of why you think your house value is too high will make all the difference. After your appointment you can expect to receive a settlement offer or rejection within 10 days. If you choose not to accept the settlement offer then you schedule a hearing with the Appraisal Review Board.
Appraisal Review Board (ARB)
ARB property tax reviews begin in June and typically last 15-20 minutes. You and a representative from the appraisal district will present your evidence in front of a panel of 3 ARB members. They will ask you questions and make their decision. The only thing the ARB members can consider is the valuation of your property. So make sure you have your evidence printed out for each member and ready to show. If you leave out certain data make sure you explain why. If you appeal the ARB decision then you can go to binding arbitration or District Court.
You can also hire a company to protest your property tax for you. Just make sure you read the fine print and understand the fees.
Check your property profile on the tax assessors website to ensure you have filed your homestead exemption if your home is your primary residence. The homestead exemption not only saves you money, but it also protects your assessed value from increasing more than 10% per year. Especially important now! Make sure you have filed your homestead tax exemptions to save money on your property taxes.
When not to protest?
It’s always worth a shot, but you also don’t want to draw attention to your house if you are undervalued. Make sure it’s going to be worth it. If you have done major improvements, you might not want to draw attention to that.
If you have any questions on protesting your property tax or looking to buy or sell your home give us a call at 512-966-6540 or drop an email firstname.lastname@example.org. RE/MAX 1 Cedar Park.
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