As the owner of several rental properties, I have protested my taxes quite a few times with good luck. Although I have heard of some people getting their taxes raised after a hearing, most people seem to get at least a small discount.
If you think your property has been appraised too high, your first step is to file written notice by May 31, with the Travis Central Appraisal District (TCAD) at 8314 Cross Park Drive, Austin 78754. Basically just fill in the back of the sheet that your tax notice came on. More information on Property Tax Protests.
After that you must build a case for yourself and appear before a representative of the Appraisal Review Board. It sounds scary, but actually, for the first hearing, it’s just a TCAD employee behind a desk. Not that intimidating at all. Bringing my kids seemed to work well, maybe as a diversionary tactic? You definitely need to bring evidence that your house is overpriced. Photos showing its condition, sales of comparable properties, a list of what other homes in your neighborhood have appraised for etc. Remember this should reflect the home price as of January 2015. Travis County will send you a notice for the time and place of your hearing.
Another tip is to file your protest as late as possible, that way you get a hearing later in the summer. In my experience, the TCAD employees are beleaguered and seem less combative than earlier in the season. Although some people seem to think the opposite.
If you have recently purchased a home, TCAD will automatically lower your home value to the price you paid for it – no questions asked. Simply send a copy of your settlement statement with your protest.
If you own several properties, but only want to protest one or two of them, go ahead and plan to protest all of them, but when you get there simply say “I’ve changed my mind about some of these, they seem fairly priced.” Voila! The employee feels like they’ve won something and may be more willing to work with you on the others.
Also, be persistent. Ask for a reduction at least several times while you’re sitting in front of the TCAD employee before accepting their value. Stick to your guns!
Also new this year is an online protest option for homeowners whose property is valued at less than $300,000 and are in very homogenous neighborhoods.
You can also try utilizing companies that specialize in protesting property taxes. Typically pay a fee to these companies and they do the work.
As your neighborhood Realtor, I’d be happy to help. If you would like more information on protesting property taxes, call Wendy Papasan with Keller Williams Realty (512) 297-9431 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.AustinsBestHomeSearch.com for more information on homes for sale in Austin, TX.
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