Request what the appraiser will present at the hearing.
What if you could sit down at a poker table and know the exact cards the others are playing? It would most likely increase your chances of winning, wouldn’t you agree? You would know if you needed to bluff, fold, or bet. You wouldn’t win every hand, but you would be at a serious advantage.
Well, the Texas Property Tax Code provides taxpayers the ability to request all the data, schedules, formulas, and all other information the chief appraiser plans to introduce at their hearing to establish any matter at issue. Any evidence that was previously requested but not provided to the property owner may not be used as evidence in the hearing.
In order to take advantage of this, the property owner must request the information at least 14 days prior to his/her scheduled hearing. A written letter addressed to the chief appraiser will work. Note, in San Antonio, the notice of protest you received from the Bexar Appraisal District has a red check box that states, “Evidence Requested.” It’s my opinion you should not rely on this. Instead, write a separate letter addressed to the appraisal district and mail it simultaneously with, or shortly after, the mailing of your notice of protest. You can download a sample letter right from our website.
In the letter you should state specifically you are requesting the evidence pursuant to section 41.461(a)(2) with the implications provided for by section 41.67(d).
This is one of the MOST POWERFUL tools in your arsenal. Once obtained, you can review and dissect the data. A thorough knowledge of what the Bexar Appraisal District plans to present at your formal hearing will better equip you to rebut/weaken their case, which will in turn strengthen yours. You can also download an information request form from the Bexar Appraisal District.
Prepare your property tax appeal presentation
How you prepare will depend on what exactly you are preparing for. Most of the time people will first speak with an appraiser in an “informal” setting before going to their “formal” hearing. If the homeowner and the appraiser can resolve the matter, both parties will execute what is called a “settlement and waiver of protest.” At this point, your appeal is over, and your value is final. AND I mean FINAL… There is no going back once you’ve signed this document. You could sign off on some outrageous number by mistake, and the Bexar County Appraiser could hold you to that number if they so desired. So, be careful and make sure you know what you are signing before you sign it. However, if you and the appraiser are not able to resolve the matter, you will proceed to your “formal” hearing with the Appraisal Review Board. Note, appraisal districts are not required to provide you an informal hearing. However, for efficiency sake, they almost always do. The only hearing to which you are entitled is the “formal” hearing.
What to Prepare for Your Informal Property Tax Appeal Hearing
I recommend attempting to settle your case informally if possible. For residential protests, the decision to settle your case will usually depend on what the Bexar Appraisal District offers you vs. what you think you can obtain at the Appraisal Review Board. It’s a complex analysis requiring experience. Even seasoned professionals won’t correctly gauge this 100% of the time. It’s not something we can teach here because the expertise comes from experience weighing the strength of your evidence, the value offered, what one might obtain at the Appraisal Review Board, and whether post Appraisal Review Board appeals should/should not be pursued.
With that said, these are my recommendations:
- If you are provided an offer by the Bexar Appraisal District appraiser you deem reasonable, I would recommend accepting it
- If you think you have a strong case, and the Bexar Appraisal District appraiser does not provide you with a commensurate offer, I recommend going to the Appraisal Review Board
- If you have a weak case and are not offered a reduction, I recommend going before Bexar County’s Appraisal Review Board
Critical Things to Include in Your Property Tax Appeal Presentation:
- Sales, adjusted to your property, that support a reduction
- Equity comps, adjusted to your property, that support a reduction
- Evidence of damage or deferred maintenance which includes pictures, estimates, bids, insurance claims, etc.
- Maps, pictures, and measurements to support correcting the appraisal records if/when you determine the CAD is appraising more square footage, amenities, or additional living area than what exists (this is extremely common – I recommend looking at the detail improvements on the Bexar Appraisal Districts website to make sure they are accurately appraising what you own)
The only situation in which I would not provide my sale or equity comps to the appraiser in an informal setting is if I had a very weak case. If you provide it to them then, they will have more time to analyze and critique your evidence for the formal.
What To Bring to Your Tax Appeal Formal Hearing:
When you determine what you will be presenting before the Bexar Appraisal Review Board, you will need to bring copies for every party that will be present at the formal hearing. In Bexar County, that would entail five copies. One for yourself, the Bexar appraiser, and the three members of the panel to which you are assigned.
Like the informal, you want to bring evidence to support a reduction in your appraised value. Such evidence could include, but would not be limited to the following:
- Sales Comparable Grid
- Equal & Uniform Analysis
- Repair Estimates
- Fire Reports
- Engineering Reports
Remember Bexar Appraisal Review Board members are NOT responsible for establishing your initial notice of value. The Bexar Appraisal Review Board is an independent board of citizens who hear and determine protests. Presenting a well-thought-out argument with facts and supporting data will take you much further than expressing frustrations with how ridiculous tax increases have become.
If knowledge is power and data helps us gain knowledge, then data is one of the most powerful tools you can have. Your chances of persuading the Bexar Appraisal Review Board’s panel to rule in your favor will increase greatly if you can support your case with solid data/information.
So, What Am I Protesting Really?
You are protesting the market valuation that was established by your county’s appraisal district. YOU ARE NOT protesting your property taxes. Property taxes are classified as an ad valorem tax (Latin word for “According to value”). This means, the amount of taxes levied on your home is based on the value established by the appraisal district.
Taxable Value X Tax Rate = Tax Amount Due
Historically, Initial value notices are sent out the first week of April. This notice will show the valuation the county placed on your home along with the estimated taxes you could end up owing at year-end if you do not protest.
So, when we file a protest, we are contesting the initial appraised value the Bexar Appraisal district has placed on your property.
Need more help with your property tax protest? Contact Us