In 2015 the Texas Legislature passed new laws giving homeowners the ability to file their property tax protest online.
Homeowners in eligible counties (with at least 500,000 residents) can file online if they meet these requirements:
- The property has a valid homestead exemption filed;
- The property is located in a homogeneous neighborhood; and
- The property is not represented by a tax agent per appraisal district records.
This article is for property owners who aren’t eligible to file their property tax protest online, or simply do not want to use their online option.
Filing a Property Tax Protest by Mail
Homeowners typically receive their proposed value notice from their county appraisal district (CAD) in late April, and have until May 31st to file their protest.
To file your protest by mail, complete Form 50-132 (Notice of Protest) and have it postmarked no later than May 31st. Since the burden is on you to prove you filed by this deadline, we recommend using certified mail.
Once the CAD receives your form, they schedule your formal protest hearing date, and you’ll typically receive this in the mail after May 31st. Depending on how many hearings there are, your formal hearing date usually falls between June 7th and August 31st.
The Informal Hearing
After you receive your formal protest hearing date, you have the opportunity to meet with an appraiser prior to your formal hearing. This is called your informal hearing. It’s important to remember that informal hearings are a courtesy provided by the appraisal districts, and not guaranteed by Texas law.
However, it’s in the CAD’s best interest to resolve as many protests as possible during informal hearings, so they are almost always offered.
Each county handles informal hearings differently. Some counties require informal hearings to occur within seven days of the formal hearing date, while others allow you to come in at any point prior. Call your CAD if you have any questions about your informal hearing requirements.
During your informal hearing, you’ll see the appraiser’s evidence used to determine your property’s proposed value. Additionally, you’ll present the evidence you used in determining your property’s value.
After evaluating your evidence, the appraiser can optionally propose a settlement offer.
You can accept or reject their settlement offer. If you accept their offer you waive your right to a formal hearing, and your acceptance is binding for the current tax year.
The Formal Hearing
If you aren’t offered a settlement, or you choose to reject their offer, you still keep your formal hearing date, where you’ll again present your evidence – this time to a three person panel of your peers (known as the Administrative Review Board (ARB)).
During your formal hearing, the appraiser also presents their evidence to the ARB. Afterwards, the ARB makes a final determination (called the opinion of value) for your property. Their determination is final, and you’ll receive it via certified mail (this letter is called a board order).
If you aren’t happy with the ARB’s determination – you still have additional remedies available: arbitration and litigation, which will be thoroughly explained in a future blog post.
You only keep your arbitration or litigation rights if you attend the formal hearing and receive a board order.
Put another way: if you sign a settlement agreement prior to the formal hearing, or choose to skip your formal hearing, you waive your right to additional remedies for that tax year.
Are you interested in learning more about your right to protest your property taxes and save money? Download our free e-book and learn 7 tips on how to save money on your property tax bill.