Should You Fight Your Property Taxes?
Texas homeowners are all too familiar with rising state property taxes, and would-be transplants catch on quickly when they look into the tax history of their favorite listings. In fact, Texas property taxes are some of the highest in the U.S.
It’s the thought at the top of every homeowner’s mind come April and May: Are my property taxes fair? And if I don’t think they are, can I fight them? The answer is; yes, you can. Read on to learn how.
What You Can Do to Fight Back Against Rising Property Taxes
Many property owners mistakenly think there’s nothing they can do about seemingly unfair property tax assessments, but there is. The official term for fighting your tax assessment is “appraisal protest,” and it means you can protest the assessed value of your home to your county’s appraisal review board (ARB).
And while it’s good to know that you do have options if you feel your tax assessment is unjust, it’s important to note that there’s usually a time limit on when you can file a 50-132 Notice of Protest form. Usually, you will have around 30-days from the notice of new appraised value or until May 31st, whichever is longer. Most notices of revised appraisal value are sent around April 1st or May 1st, depending on how the property is registered.
Don’t Miss Out on Qualifying Property Tax Exemptions
In Texas, we have what’s called the “Homestead Exemption” which anyone can file for their primary residence. The Homestead Exemption (form 50-114) may remove up to 20% from the assessed value and lower your home’s taxable value, which could save you a significant amount of money (the actual exemption value depends on where you live).
In addition to the homestead option, there are numerous other exemptions available like exemptions for veterans, those over the age of 65, and disabled homeowners. For a full list of exemptions and to find the forms you’ll need to file each kind, visit the Texas Comptroller website and click on “Exemption Forms”.
Why Are Texas Property Taxes So High?
Texas is one of only seven states in the nation that has no state income tax. Instead, Texas relies heavily on property taxes to provide the influx of cash that the state and local governments need to provide public services like education, infrastructure, and more.
Every county in Texas has its own appraisal district that sets the property tax value of homes. It’s important to know that the assessed value of your home for tax purposes and the market value are not the same.
But Isn’t the Goal to Have the Highest Home Value Possible?
You want the highest market value possible (that’s what your home would be worth if you were to list it for sale today), while you want the lowest possible assessed value for tax purposes (that’s the value the appraisal district assigns your home).
What you end up paying in property taxes is directly related to your assessed tax value.
And the higher that “value” is, the higher your taxes will be too.
The problem for homeowners arises when the assessed tax value of their home is greater than the expected market value. With a proper CMA (Comparable Market Analysis), a Realtor takes into account all the realities of your property, both positive and negative, and compares it to similar properties to assign an estimated value. This is not the case when your assessed tax value is calculated.
Unfortunately, tax value assessment is based on a computer calculation that doesn’t take into account the condition of a property, market boundaries (like how close you are to a major road), or school districts in the sense of desirable or undesirable (another factor that can influence the value of your home). Essentially, a tax value assessment is much more generic and misses a lot of the critical details that contribute to the actual value of a property. Which means accidents do happen and it’s possible that your home’s assessed tax value may be too high now or in the future.
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