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Appealing Your Texas Property Taxes in District Court

July 17, 2006

Appealing Your Texas Property Taxes in District Court

If you disagree with the appraisal district's value or any action of the appraisal district about your property, the Texas Property Tax Code (TPTC) provides several options to appeal your property taxes. Most appraisal district offices will meet with you informally to review your protest and usually make an offer, but if you are unsatisfied with the offer, you can protest at an Appraisal Review Board (ARB) hearing. However, if you do not achieve a satisfactory reduction at the ARB hearing, the TPTC provides you with the opportunity to protest by requesting either binding arbitration or judicial appeal.

Once the ARB rules on a property tax protest, it sends a written order by certified mail. If you are dissatisfied with the ARB's findings, you have the right to appeal its decision in district court in the county where the property is located. Before filing, you should consult with an attorney. Within 45 days of receiving the notice of determination from the ARB, you must file a petition for review with the district court. You must make a partial payment of taxes-usually the amount of taxes that are not in dispute-before the delinquency date. Judicial appeals are an effective and essential tool in appealing property taxes.

Unfortunately, judicial appeals are not financially feasible for most homeowners. Filing fees alone are about $300. It would cost about $2,000-$5,000 for a homeowner to pursue judicial appeal. The expense is simply too much compared to the possible tax savings for the average homeowner. (For example, based on a median home value of $150,000, a 3% tax rate and a 10% reduction, a homeowner could save $450 during a judicial appeal.)

Homeowners with an assessed value from $750,000 to $1million or higher may be able to hire a consultant or an attorney on a contingency basis. It is possible to appeal on either unequal appraisal or market value using a judicial appeal, unlike binding arbitration where you can only protest on market value. In addition to the high costs to prosecute a judicial appeal, the process is also more formal and time-consuming than binding arbitration.

Commercial property owners should seriously consider filing a lawsuit (judicial appeal) to further reduce the base value for the subsequent years property tax protest. Reducing the base value helps to minimize the taxes in the subsequent year.



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