Have a question about property tax in Texas? As the protest deadline approaches, we ask Glenn
For someone trying to save you money, Glenn Goodrich has an appropriate last name.
He is a licensed property tax consultant and founder of Propertytax.ioa unique company that prepares protest packages for customers.
The watchdog gets many questions about property taxes, but I can’t guess the answers. When in doubt, I consult Glenn and others.
Here are real letters from readers, who sent me questions. And I, in turn, ask Glenn.
Question: I believe a strong case can be made to dispute the market value based on recent comps. However, it will be much more difficult to challenge the appraisal value. Should we still protest and dispute the announced market value?
Glen: You can only dispute the market value, not the appraised value. The only way to reduce the appraised value (ownership ceiling) is to reduce your market value below the appraised value. This year, it will be extremely difficult to obtain a reduction lower than the appraised value. I advise people to take a longer term approach and start writing down the value. A lower value this year can help you down the road.
Question: Can I dispute the value of the land?
Glen: You cannot dispute only the value of the land or only the value of the improvement. You can only dispute the total value. Your best chance to cut back this year is to focus on ownership structure. Show pictures of dilapidation or items that need updating, such as the kitchen.
Question: I have indicated on the form that I will not be present at the hearing. Do I always have to send three copies of the intent and evidence to the members of the Assessment Review Board (ARB) and one to the assessor?
Glen: If you don’t show up in person, just send a copy. If you’re going in person, I recommend bringing five copies.
Question: It seems futile to file a complaint. But it also looks like I’m set up for 10% annual increases for years to come.
Glen: Like I said, this is the year to start writing down. It’s an easy process. There is no risk. And as citizens, we need to monitor the assessment district to make sure they’re doing the best job they can.
Question: My house may be undervalued, and my protests could draw attention to that.
Glen: As of 2020, it is illegal for the ARB to increase your value due to a protest. Filing a protest is a welcome part of the process.
Question: Why bother protesting since the capped value can only go up 10% per year anyway?
Glen: It makes sense to protest your value this year to prevent your capped value from increasing by 10% next year. Assessment districts are required to reassess a neighborhood every three years, so this year’s reductions could very well see future benefits.
Question: My neighbor has made many improvements. How can the assessment district be helped to know them?
Glen: I would focus on your property. Show them photos that show your house needs some work (cracks in the floor, outdated appliances, etc.).
Question: I live in a street with 16 houses. I visited the appraisal district website and pulled out each property, comparing square footage and market value. Our house is the fourth smallest with the third highest taxes. How can this be true or fair?
Glen: Much more than the dollar per square foot is in their system. Look at the desirability ratings of these properties. It should be listed in the improvement section. It should say something like excellent, very good, good, average, fair, poor, or very poor. If you have a higher rating that could explain the difference, you can lower your condition by providing photos that show your home is not as nice as other homes on your street.
Question: I am over 65. Should I still protest?
Glen: There are valid reasons to keep protesting when you are over 65. First, part of your tax bill may still increase. With a fixed income, you obviously want to watch that. Second, you may want to reduce the tax value when you leave your home as part of an inheritance. Third, one of the constitutional amendments from the May 7 election allows your frozen amount to be reduced if you get a reduction below the current frozen amount.
Question: We just bought a tiny house, and it’s taxed about 15% more than what we bought it for.
Glen: Due to the unprecedented market appreciation we have seen over the past year, appraisal districts do not automatically honor your purchase price from the prior year. I suggest you file a protest and submit your HUD-1 form from your closing documents and include the appraisal done on the home for your mortgage. If they don’t diminish your value in informal negotiations, take your case to the ARB, which isn’t bound by the same rules that appraisal districts impose on themselves.
You may have a better chance of getting the reduced value than what you paid at ARB. The closer a sold property is to the appraisal date (January 1, 2022), the more likely it is that the appraisal district will accept the sale price. If I were you, I would say that my house may have appreciated a little, but not as much as they claim.
To finish, a reader asked Glenn a question that consumed an entire typed page. In his response, he suggested, “Can I give some advice? Find a way to sum it up in a few sentences. Your time is limited and what you have written is a bit overwhelming for someone on an ARB who has five minutes to make a decision. Just a few friendly tips to make this more efficient.
Remember that the deadline in most counties to file a protest is May 16. There are exceptions (Denton County for one), so check your assessment notice. And if you didn’t get one, go to the Assessment District website and search for your property.
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