In the next few days you should get the 2010 Notice of Appraised Value for your property. It will come from the county tax office where your property is located so keep an eye out for it. The notice gives you the assessed value for the market value of the land and the improvements or structures on the property breaking out each amount. It also gives you last year’s value so you can see how much it has increased or decreased. Each taxing entity is also listed along with the exemption amount if you qualify for one and the tax rate. For example, I live in the City of Austin, so the tax entities are listed as Austin, ISD
City of Austin
Travis County Health Care District
Austin Community College
Each one lists the tax rate for last year and the estimated taxes I will pay this year. The lion’s share of tax goes to the school district with city and county making up the majority of the rest.
If you don’t agree with the assessed value, it is really important to file a protest with the county, and it is really easy to do. You have until June 1, 2010 to file a protest in writing with the county. On the back of the notice, fill in the reason you are making the protest by checking the appropriate box. You do not need to give them any more information, like what you think your home is worth at this time. Mail the form back with your signature.
You will be assigned a time for an informal hearing. Gather the data you need to justify your position. We can provide you with comparable sales that support your position if you need them. It really helps to have print outs about each house that you are comparing to yours. You property will be judged by size, location and quality. When you arrive, you will sign in and wait for your name to be called. A hearing officer who is a local appraiser with the county will call you back and meet with you. Ask to see what properties were used in their assessment. Many times the properties they have used aren’t comparable and you can point out the differences. Present your comparables. The appraiser will decide if your value should be lowered and make you an offer. You either sign it, or you are assigned to appear again at a formal hearing. Most of these are settled at the informal stage. I have saved property owners thousands of dollars over the years in these informal hearings by giving data that supported a reduction or correcting errors that the county had made in the property description itself. You just need to be prepared adequately. One homeowner was being assessed with a commercial value formula when his property was residential. His value was lowered substantially. So, don’t be afraid to protest your tax value. It may save you money short term and long term.