Owners can file for a protest if their property qualifies for any one of the following reasons to demand a decrease in taxes.
The first step to protest is to file a form with your County Appraisal District (CAD). The deadline to file is May 15. In some cases, owners have until 30 days after a notice of appraised value is mailed. The Appraisal Review Board (ARB) at its discretion may also accept a late protest for good cause. ARB is a board of citizens responsible for the adjudication of property tax protests. An informal hearing is organized with the CAD to resolve the issues. If an agreement cannot be reached, you are automatically set for a hearing with the ARB. The ARB then notifies you with a date and time for the hearing. Property owners can request for the hearing to be during the evening or weekends if necessary. Alternatively, a property owner can appear for the hearing via a conference call or submit a written affidavit. A property owner can also be represented by an attorney if he cannot be present at the hearing. A protest hearing works just like a trial. That means a property owner has the right to review any evidence that the CAD wants to submit, before or immediately after the hearing begins. The owner filing the protest or his attorney are allowed to cross-examine the CAD representative at the ARB hearing. A written copy of the ARB's decision is mailed to the property owner.
If unsatisfied by the ARB's decision, the owner can appeal to the District Court, appeal for binding arbitration or file with the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH).
A property owner has the right to appeal to the District Court. The petition must be filed by the property owner's attorney within 60 days of the ARB's decision. The appraisal district is expected to file its response within 20 days after a petition is served. The next step is discovery, where your attorney gathers evidence from the appraisal district to build a case. Discovery can occur in several forms, including interrogatories (written questions answered under oath in writing), requests for production (a legal request for written documents and/or electronically stored information), and depositions (questioning under oath). If there is no settlement out of court, the lawsuit goes to trial. The judge or jury only consider the evidence presented at the trail. The ARB's hearing is not admissible evidence. A judgment in the owner's favor could also get him the attorney fees. If not, the trial may be escalated to higher courts up to the Supreme Court of the United States.
When a property owner appeals through binding arbitration, both sides present their cases and evidence in a hearing to a neutral arbitrator, whose decision is enforceable by law. This is an option for owners whose property's value is less than $5 million, provided he has not filed in a District Court. A property owner can file for arbitration within 45 days of receiving the ARB's decision.
To appeal the ARB's decision by filing with the SOAH, the property's value must be over $1 million and the appeal should be about unequal appraisal, appraised value or market value of the property.
The property owner files a Notice of Appeal with the chief appraiser of the appraisal district within 30 days of the ARB's decision to begin the process, after which the owner is required to deposit $1,500 within 90 days.
The answer is simply no. There is no fee to file an initial tax protest. One can initiate an appeal process online. Analysis says that property owners do better and reduce up to 54% more on their tax bill when they self-represent.
Even if a property owner decides to hire a protest firm, most charge only if they are able to get a reduction on the property tax bill.
There is little or no financial risk for a property owner in filing a protest.
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