Protesting Unequal Treatment of Your Texas Property

Commercial Real Estate Attorney | Bukowski Law Firm | Austin, TX
  • The deadline to file a property tax protest is coming up – May 15, 2021.

  • When you file your Notice of Protest, make sure you protest the market value and unequal appraisal.

  • Under Texas law, taxation has to be equal and uniform. Thus protesting an unequal appraisal gives a property owner another way to fight the appraisal district.

Is everyone sick of property tax talk yet? This is no longer a nominal commercial real estate blog. Its all taxes all the time.

But seriously, it is property tax season. So once again this week, that’s what we will talk about. Specifically, we discuss filing a Notice of Protest form and why it is ESSENTIAL to protest the unequal treatment of your property taxes.

By the way, I shorthand often refer to this as “protesting your property taxes.” In actuality, you are protesting the appraised value of your property. And then that value is multiplied by the tax rate to get your property taxes owed. But its easier to just refer to that as protesting your property taxes.

Notice of Protest

As we have been talking about, the county appraisal districts are about to release 2021 appraised values any day. Indeed, at the time I am writing this article Harris and Bexar Counties have already released their’s. We expect the rest of the counties to follow any day. That means its time for property owners to file their protests.

The first step in doing that is to file a Notice of Protest with your local appraisal district. The form is fairly simple – you have to post your (or the ownership entity’s) name and address, as well as street address or legal description of the property, and the appraisal district account number. The form MUST BE FILED BY MAY 15, 2021. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.

The easiest and best way to get the information on the form is to go to your local appraisal district website and search for your property. All of the information will be there.

For example, on the Dallas County Appraisal District website, you can search for the property by the name of the owner. And when you bring up the record, it will give you the account number, legal description, etc.

You also need to check the reasons for your protests in the “Step 3” section. There are a lot of reasons that you may protest (for example if you have an ag exemption). But there are two universal protests that every property owner should check:

  • Incorrect appraised (market) value – When checking this, you are protesting that the appraisal district incorrectly assessed the market value of your property; and

  • Value is unequal compared with other properties.

Unequal Compared with Other Properties

So what does it mean that your property is appraised unequal with other properties? And how can that help you?

The Texas constitution states that taxation shall be equal and uniform. And from there, the Texas Property Code states that a property is appraised unequally if:

  • the appraisal ratio of the property exceeds by at least 10 percent the median level of appraisal of a reasonable and representative sample of other properties in the appraisal district;

  • the appraisal ratio of the property exceeds by at least 10 percent the median level of appraisal of a sample of properties in the appraisal district consisting of a reasonable number of other properties similarly situated to, or of the same general kind or character as, the property subject to the appeal; or

  • the appraised value of the property exceeds the median appraised value of a reasonable number of comparable properties appropriately adjusted.

Thus if you have an apartment building built in the 1960s next to your neighbor who also has an apartment building built in the 1960s, the local appraisal district has to give a relatively similar appraised value to both. Obviously that value is adjusted for vintage, size, repairs, etc. But in general, they have to be taxed at a similar rate.

This is often the most effective way to protest your property taxes in today’s market. As you likely know, prior to the pandemic, property values in Texas were increasing. Thus market value analysis may not always be your most effective tool to protesting the assessed values. Instead, equal and uniform analysis is often beneficial in helping lower your assessed value.

So when you get those appraised values in the next couple of weeks, make sure you get your Notice of Protest form filed by May 15. And if you need help, please give us a call at 512-614-0335.

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