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How To Reduce Your Property Taxes

March 14, 2022

In Texas, two essential factors contribute to your property tax bill: the appraisal value of your home and the tax rates set by the local taxing units. Since you can’t do anything to reduce the tax rates, the key to lowering your property taxes is to get the appraisal value of your home reduced. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to save money on your property tax bill. 

Before Your Home is Appraised

Every county in Texas has its own appraisal district that is responsible for determining property market values. The appraisal district may send a Value Notice of your home in April or May but it is not obligated to send a Value Notice to all owners whose values may have been increased from the preceding year’s value.  Nevertheless, there are several actions you can take to lower the initial appraisal value of your home before you receive your Value Notice. These tips can help you lower your property’s appraisal value, which in turn lowers your property taxes.

File for a Homestead Exemption

If the property you’re being taxed on is your primary residence and you’ve lived there from January 1, applying for a homestead exemption can save you a substantial amount on your property taxes. With a homestead exemption, a certain amount of your home’s value is not counted towards your residence’s taxable value. As an example, if your house was appraised at $150,000 and you receive a $20,000 homestead exemption, your home’s appraisal value will be reduced by $20,000, and you will be taxed at $130,000. 

Join in on the Assessor’s Walkthrough

If a tax assessor requests permission to walk through your home to appraise it, you should consider joining them while they are conducting their evaluation. This will give you the opportunity to make sure the assessor notices the issues with the house and allow you to point out any deficiencies that might not be immediately apparent. When the assessor considers the bad as well as the good aspects of your home, you are more likely to receive a fairer (and lower) appraisal value.  The assessor cannot inspect the interior of your home without your permission.  You can deny permission if you feel that it would be intrusive or otherwise not in your interest.

After Your Home is Appraised

Your property should be appraised at market value, which is the value at which a knowledgeable buyer and a knowledgeable seller would agree if neither were under pressure to buy or to sell.  Unfortunately, even if you file for a homestead exemption and join the tax assessor on the walkthrough, property tax appraisal values are often higher than market.  If you believe that your appraisal value is more than it should be, you can submit a property tax protest to your local appraisal district. 

Filing a property tax protest gives you the opportunity to challenge the district’s appraisal value for your home through a hearing with an independent Appraisal Review Board (ARB). At this hearing, you’ll be able to present evidence to show why your home’s appraisal value is too high.  The appraisal district will present its evidence and the ARB will determine a final market value of your property for taxation.  

A few of the best strategies for finding evidence that can convince the ARB to lower your property tax appraisal value are listed below. 

Check Your Property Records for Errors

Your local appraisal district compiles certain information about every piece of real estate property in the area, including the following:

  • Appraisal value
  • Square footage
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Year the house was built

This information is publicly available, typically on your local appraisal district’s website. Checking your records for mistakes can allow you to identify misinformation that could be wrongfully inflating your home’s appraisal value. If you identify any such mistakes, you will likely  receive a property tax reduction either from the ARB or throiugh negotiation informally with the appraisal district. 

Review Comparable Appraisals

Your county’s property records are publicly available. This means that, in addition to reviewing the above information about your own real estate on the appraisal district’s website, you can also see similar data for every property in the county. Accessing these records allows you to compare your home’s property tax appraisal value to other properties in the area with a similar floorplan, square footage, age, and condition. Because appraisal districts are required to appraise property fairly and consistently, if you find that comparable homes were assessed at a lower value than yours, you have an argument for a reduction under Inequality of Appraisal.  Inequality of Appraisal is a complex argument to make before the Appraisal Review Board but it can result in tax savings where comparable sales are not supportive.  In other words, Inequality of Appraisal can result in a taxable market value below market!  

Get an Independent Appraisal

When you believe that the county appraisal district’s assessment of your property is too high, you may benefit from having an independent real estate appraiser evaluate your home. If a licensed values your home as less than the county’s assessment, you may file for a property tax reduction.  Appraisal districts must place credence on the value determined by a licensed appraiser.  Often a licensed appraisal can be obtained for less than the amount you save in first year property taxes and considering that reductions often last more than one year the appraisal cost can be considered a reasonable investment in your future savings.

Even when you have strong arguments, lowering your property taxes can be a complex process. That’s why working with Property Tax Protest makes your life much simpler. We have been helping our clients get their property taxable values reduced for over 20 years. Sign up with us today with no risk involved: there’s no upfront fee and if there’s no reductin there’s no fee.

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