Debunking Property Tax Myths #1

Myth #1: Protesting Your Property Taxes Can Put You at Risk For an Increase in Property Taxes

There are some common misconceptions about the property tax appeal process that I often hear from property owners who are not familiar with the property tax appeal process. For this reason we decided to create a series of articles that will discuss and explain these common pubic misunderstandings about protesting your property tax valuation.

The most common myth, or fear of homeowners, I hear when property owners explain why they do not protest their property tax valuation is this:

MYTH: If you appeal your proposed property tax valuation, you run the risk of actually increasing your property tax valuation, thus run the risk of increasing your property tax burden.    

This was not true before online protests became available to Texas property owners, and is even less true now that most homeowners in Texas are eligible to appeal their property values informally online.

Prior to 2015, before online protests became an option for the majority of Texas homeowners, the only way a property owner ran the risk of having their property taxes increased was if they (or their hired tax agent) did not reach a settlement during the informal meeting, and elected to go to a formal hearing.   And then despite knowing the evidence the Appraiser would present at the formal hearing indicating a higher value, proceeded with the hearing, presented no evidence justifying a different value than the one the appraiser recommended, thus subsequently lost the hearing, and left the three person board appointed to hear the case no choice but to establish the higher value presented by the appraiser.

I have heard of this happening due to the negligence of a hired tax agent not going to an informal meeting and then showing up to the formal hearing unprepared on behalf of the client, presenting no evidence, and thus forcing the appraiser and the board to set a higher value out of spite and for punitive reasons to the agent. But I will also say that in seven years, and representing either directly or indirectly thousands of properties in over 12 counties, I have never personally seen a board raise a value. Furthermore, the few times I have heard of this occurring, it has always occurred when a property was negligently represented by a professional, not a property owner, and the properties have always been commercial, not residential properties.

With all that being said, now that the new frontier of online residential protests is upon us in 2016, I can assure you that there is absolutely no risk of a residential property owner’s tax liability increasing by them taking advantage of the online residential protest option available to them. This is because the online residential protest only covers the informal portion of the appeal process between the property owner and the appraisal district.