- Local appraisal districts should be sending out notices of appraised value shortly.
- The deadline to protest is likely May 15 – after which, you will have an informal and formal hearing on the value of your property.
- To get a good result at the protest hearings, its important to start preparing now.
Well we are getting close. Its almost that time of year. The time of year that all Texans despise the most – property tax season. Within a few weeks, we should be getting our notices of assessed value from the respective appraisal districts. At that point, the season will kick into high gear and you will have until May 15* to file a protest.
As a commercial property owner, therefore, what should you do between now and May 15 to start prepping for the protest hearings? Well that’s what we are going to talk about this week.
Understanding How the Property Tax Protest Hearings Work
To understand how to prepare for a property tax protest, I think its first important to really understand how the protest hearings work. Only then can you understand what evidence will be best to present to get to the values you deserve.
The first step is an informal hearing. In most districts, that means you are literally meeting with an appraiser from the district and making your case as to why your value is too high. Getting to meet with someone from the district face to face provides a unique opportunity to really show him or her what evidence you have that your property is valued too high. And you also get to understand what the appraisal district’s argument is.
Unfortunately, in Travis County they have all but eliminated informal hearings. Instead, you just submit your evidence into the portal and wait for them to make a counteroffer. It is a far less effective method, but it does require less time of the appraisers.
The next step is the formal hearing. At this, you will be in front of a three-person panel presenting your evidence. These three folks are appointed by a local judge. And they do not necessarily have a background in real estate. They will listen to you present your evidence and then the appraisal district present its evidence. The panel then decides what the assessed value should be.
Given this, it is essential that the evidence you present is clear, data driven, and precise.
Preparing for a Property Tax Protest Hearing
Now that we know how the hearing goes, what should you prepare to bring to that hearing? As I wrote above, the best evidence is based on data driven analysis. And it should be precise – if you think a heritage tree lowers the value of your property, you need to be able to show exactly how much it lowers that value.
Given that, when preparing for the upcoming protest, what evidence should you gather? I think the following is a good start:
- Photos – anything you have that shows the condition of the property is not what the appraisal district thinks it is.
- Invoices and estimates – any estimates or repairs that were done or still need to be done to improve the condition of the property.
- Appraisals – if you have had someone appraise the property, have that written analysis.
- Financials – The best are the monthly operating statements for each month of the previous year, as well as rent rolls.
Gathering this information is a good start to get you on the way to protesting your property taxes. Beyond that, if you have anything that will show that the property has any defects or should not be valued as high as the appraisal district has estimated, that information can be a benefit in the hearings.
If you have any further questions or we can help you with your protest, please do not hesitate to give us a call.
- There are some exceptions to the May 15 date if the appraisal district is late getting the notices out. But for our purposes, we will assume the deadline is May 15.