Property Tax Protest Information and Resources
Most people have a decent understanding of the process used by the various appraisal districts, but a review never hurts. The Austin American Statesman published an excellent overview of the process with information specific to Travis, Williamson, and Hays counties included. Look at the brief overview to understand the process and when/where you can act.
In advancing my own protest in Travis county this year, I've seen two changes from previous years. Travis County Appraisal District (TCAD) no longer supports Tuesday afternoon walk in conferences with appraisal district personnel. In addition, informal protests used to be scheduled in advance of formal hearings. District personnel told me that this year informal and formal hearings will be held on the same day. So, for example, if you are scheduled for an informal hearing on Wednesday, May 29th, and you do not come to a settlement, you will have your formal hearing later that same day. Remember, if you file your protest online, that serves as your informal hearing. If you want an in person informal hearing, you must protest off-line. It makes no sense to me, but that is the way they are conducting business this year. I talked with a supervisor at TCAD and let her know that the changes make it appear as if TCAD is trying to avoid interacting with the same taxpayers that fund their operation.
Should you protest your appraised value?
If you are convinced that your market value is lower than the appraised value specified by your appraisal district, then yes, you should protest your value. If you don’t, the excessive value assigned by the appraisal district will stand and impact you over time. Your valuation will also stand as a comparable the appraisal district can use when other taxpayers with like properties protest.
Things to keep in mind when you protest
- Getting upset and treating appraisal district employees in a disrespectful manner will be counter-productive.
- The Appraisal district only sets the appraised value and does not set the tax rate (which is set by your municipality, school district, and other taxing entities) nor your overall tax bill. Arguing about the total taxes due or your ability to pay, will not accomplish anything.
- When you present your case at either an informal hearing or a formal ARB presentation, bring copies of your evidence to share with the district employees and/or ARB panel.
- Present your evidence and close with your stance on what your property is worth. Don’t prattle on with general information. Be specific about your evidence and what value you believe the evidence indicates.
- Always be courteous and respectful in your dealings.
Informal vs Formal Hearing
If your county supports it, you may be able to file your informal protest online. Our experience has been that the online informal process does not yield significant positive results. You present evidence to the appraisal district, they rule on it and provide their evidence, and that is the end of the discourse. Your only recourse at that point is to accept their settlement offer or continue to a formal ARB hearing. If you file a paper protest and schedule an informal hearing, you will at least get the opportunity to have some back and forth with the appraisal district personnel. If the appraisal district uses inaccurate information for their evidence of value (something I've seen both this year and last), only the informal hearing allows you to review that with the appraisal district outside of a formal hearing. Once you reach a formal hearing, district employees tend to get more aggressive about defending the district’s work and you are left at the mercy of a three-person panel that may or may not listen to your points with the same attention it gives the district employee.
Travis County Appraisal District
Williamson County Appraisal District
Hays County Appraisal District
Appraisal Review Board (excellent page at the Travis County AD site about the ARB with many additional resources)
If you believe your assessed value is too high and want to get additional information about sales comparables in your area, use the form to the upper right to submit a request to us and we'll reach out to discuss your situation and provide the appropriate information.