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A Taxing Time For Homeowners
By Texas Assoc. of Realtors
Tuesday, December 24, 2013 • Posted December 27, 2013 11:15 AM

Your home has a great value to you, but one time when you want your home to be worth less is when it’s time to pay your property taxes.

Each year, local taxing entities collect these taxes for local governments to use to pay for public services such as schools, roads and emergency response services. The amount you pay is based on how much the appraisal district determines your home is worth.

How do you figure?

Your taxes are calculated using two main components: the tax rate and the assessed value of your home. Each local taxing authority – like the school district, the city, and the county – has its own tax rate. The appraisal district is responsible for assessing your home’s value and using this amount to determine how much you owe.

For example, when a taxing authority collects a rate of 50 cents per $100 of assessed value, that means a home valued at $150,000 would yield $750 for that taxing authority, unless the home qualifies for certain exemptions.

Are you exempt?

The assessed value of your home may be reduced by certain amounts for each taxing authority, if you applied and qualify for exemptions. Most property owners qualify for a homestead exemption on their primary residence. Other exemptions are available for homeowners who are 65 and older and those who are disabled veterans. Check with your appraisal district to find out what exemptions you may qualify for.

Disputing your property tax appraisal

So what do you do if you believe your home has been assessed higher than its actual value? You have recourse. Your Texas REALTOR® can be a valuable resource if you need help, as she is an expert in the local market and can walk you through the process.

If you believe your property is appraised too high, you can protest it, but you need to respond quickly. You have until May 31 or by the 30th day after the notice of the appraised value is delivered, whichever is later, to file your protest with the Appraisal Review Board. This board hears evidence from property owners and the county’s chief appraiser before making a decision on the protest. Look for an appeal form to be included with your appraisal along with instructions about the process.

The protest process typically includes an opportunity to settle informally with the appraisal district first. Discussing your situation directly with the appraisal district can sometimes yield results. For example, if you bought your house close to the beginning of the year and the tax assessment is higher than your purchase price, you probably can get your appraisal lowered to your purchase price. Even if you plan to contact the appraisal district directly, you should still file your notice of protest in case you don’t come to a resolution.

It’s important for you to collect as much evidence as possible to support your claim. And it’s up to you to do the due diligence to find the evidence. Here are a few examples of evidence that can be effective during an ARB hearing:

Proof that the appraisal district’s description or measurements of your property are incorrect

Evidence of defects in your property or other conditions that diminish its value

Proof that similar properties in your area are valued lower than yours

Comparing values

An important element in your property tax appraisal is comparable properties or “comps.” These are properties near yours that have similar features or are in a similar situation. Most appraisal districts post property records on their public websites, which can make researching appraisals on other properties just a matter of searching online.

Your Texas REALTOR® can help you find comps in your area and help you prepare to dispute your appraisal based on these similar properties. If you discover that your home is appraised significantly higher than comparable homes, you may want to appeal.

Visit the Texas Comptroller’s website for detailed information about property taxes. For consumer-friendly information about homeownership in Texas, I encourage you to visitTexasRealEstate.com.

For more information on buying or selling property in Texas, please call Waymond Lightfoot at (210) 386-5201.

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