Contesting Taxes in Texas

By: Curtis Reddehase

What do you do if you disagree with the county appraisal district's (CAD's) appraisal of your property? The following information may help you.

If you disagree with the CAD's appraisal of your property, you must file a written protest each year to the county's appraisal review board (ARB). The ARB is an independent body that settles disputes between property owners and the appraisal district. You must file the protest before June 1 or no later than 30 days after the appraisal district sends you a notice of your appraised value.

When you present your protest to the ARB, you may appear in person, send someone to present the protest for you, or send a sworn affidavit (notarized statement) containing the evidence to support your protest. You should submit the affidavit to the ARB before the hearing begins. It is very important that ARB receives your affidavit before the date of your hearing or you may not get to present your evidence. You may download and print an affidavit, form (50-283), from the State Comptroller's web site at: http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/taxforms/02-forms.html. Submitting your evidence by affidavit, although perfectly legal, may not be as effective as actually being present at the protest hearing.

For your ARB hearing, you may want to bring photographs of your property. If there are defects in the property, bring a notarized statement from a repair company or independent appraiser. You should also gather sales of similar properties in your area. Sales that occurred closest to January 1 are the best to use. Ask the CAD for sales it used to appraise your property. Obtaining a notarized statement from a realtor giving an opinion of your property's value is also good evidence to present to the ARB.

Believe it or not, the law says that for most protests the CAD has the burden of proving the property is correctly appraised. They must do so by a preponderance of the evidence presented at the ARB hearing. The CAD also has the burden of showing the property is appraised equally with similar properties. If the CAD fails to meet that standard, the law says that the ARB should make a determination in the property owner's favor.

In 2008, the law changes and in certain protests places an even higher burden on the CAD to prove the property is correctly appraised. Beginning in 2008, in a protest on a property with a market or appraised value of $1 million or less, the appraisal district has the burden of establishing the value of the property by clear and convincing evidence - as opposed to the weight or preponderance of the evidence - presented at the hearing when the property owner delivers an appraisal to the CAD at least 14 days before the hearing and the independent appraisal was performed within 180 days of the hearing date.

You have the right to appeal ARB's decision to district court or in some cases seek binding arbitration. You have 45 days after receiving the board's written order to file a petition for review with the court or seek resolution through binding arbitration. Property owners should talk with an attorney before deciding to file suit against the CAD.

For more information about protesting your taxes, the Texas State

Comptroller's Property Tax Division publishes the Appraisal Review Board

Manual. The manual not only explains in great detail the protest system

but it serves as the textbook for the state-training of appraisal review

board members. The 2007 manual can be found at

http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/proptax/arb07/index.html. Agents

and property owners who have questions about the property tax laws may

also call the staff at the Property Tax Division at 1-800-252-9121.

A. K. A. J. H.

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