This is my final blog on Property Taxes and this topic specifically addresses protesting your property taxes.
As I mentioned in previous blogs, you can find much of the information you need on the www.Wise-CAD.com. Wise County Appraisal District website. If you do not live in Wise County, your appraisal district may have much the same information.
First, go to the site and in the Green Banner you will see the word ”Forms.” Click on the word and it will take you to the page with all the various forms available. Scroll down to the section titled: ARB Protest. ARB stands for the Appraisal Review Board, which is the group that oversees the appraisal process and all protests.
Underneath, there is a document titled “Taxpayer Rights and Remedies” in both English and Spanish. I suggest you print it off and read it thoroughly. Highlight the areas you need to know. This will save you later on, should you decide to file a protest.
You can save a lot of time and headache if your read this document first, and at the bottom of the page, there is a video section on presenting your case to the appraisal review board. Take time to watch the video entirely before you even begin the process. Many of the questions that arise, are answered in these 2 items, again saving you valuable time and effort.
It is important also to know your rights when it comes to this process. The state comptrollers office MUST help advise you on how to file a protest if you need it. The process can seem daunting, but they can help you understand and walk you through it. However, be sure to do your homework first so you can speak to the process intelligently.
The Taxpayer Rights and Remedies document also reminds us that the ARB can only address the appraised value and items related to the value, not the actual taxing rates or other issues of that sort.
Dates are key, so make note. When you receive your notice of appraised value, you only have a limited amount of time to file the protest. There is a protest form provided with the Notice, as well and the due date is often at the top of that form.
By law, the state says it is due within 30 days of the date it was MAILED, not the date you received it. Be sure to watch for it in your mail and if you think you may need to begin the protest process, do so quickly or you will miss out for that tax year.
This same document has great information to help you get started, such as:
How to protest the values
What can be protested
How to resolve concerns informally
What steps to take to prepare for the formal hearing
What to do if you do not agree with the decision
I mentioned previously in my first blog, our experience with this process. We were in the process of building our home ourselves and I protested the value. The appraisal district provided an appraised value based on the entire home being completed. I sent pictures of the interior and they gave us a percentage of completion. The next couple of years they increased that percentage until the final year they came to the property and saw it was complete and valued it at 100% complete. You may also need to protest that same issue if you are in the process of building your home.
The main protest is the appraised value given the property by the CAD.
There is a strange dichotomy that we as realtors see a lot. We all want to sell our property for the highest amount of money we can get, but no one wants to pay taxes on that amount. So how does the appraisal district determine your value?
The state requires that every CAD value the properties within their boundaries every 3 years. There are different methods that can be used based on the density of the area, however often it is basic market value. In years past it has been much less, between 20-40% less than market, however, the districts are now required by the state to use ‘market’ value.
For complete information on that process, you can go to the Menu section of the Wise-CAD on the bottom left of the and you will see a section called “Understanding the Property Tax System”. This link takes you to a page full of links with all kinds of great information. Take time to look over this page to see if there are any other links that could help you.
But if you are only interested in the appraisal process, scroll down to ‘Appraisal’ Section, and underneath that is a link to ‘Valuing Property.’ This link takes you to the Comptrollers page that explains how they determine value and the various processes that are used.
If you want to specifically protest the value, you can either do the homework yourself or contact me or another realtor. Many of us are willing to help you get the basic data together. Again, watch the video on the bottom of the website entitled “How to Present your Case at the Appraisal Review Board Hearing For Homeowners.”
To gather the data a realtor does a CMA, or comparative market analysis, which is a list of sold properties that match yours. We look at the age, the square foot, the location, and amenities and try to find homes that have sold recently which are similar to yours. This gives us an average of price per square foot. Then we multiply that times the square foot of your home, to get the value. It can be a simple process, however, can take a lot of time to find homes that match yours if you are not in an actively selling subdivision.
The key is that the homes you are comparing to are sold. Only realtors can see how much a home sold for, that information is not provided on any of the internet sites. The internet sites show the listing price, which is rarely the same as the amount a property sold for. Realtors we can find the homes that match and look at the date they sold. Many realtors do not charge for this service, so don’t be afraid to reach out.
The date the home sold is important because the market fluctuates. A home that sold 2 years ago is not equal value because the market has fluctuated. We try to use homes that have sold in 3 to 6 months prior to the date we are gathering the data. This eliminates any market issues that can arise.
Many people often find out however, that their property is appraised appropriately and going through the protest process is going to end up being a headache and waste of time. So be honest with yourself about your property and save yourself a lot of heartburn.
Also, do not try to manipulate the process and use comparison properties that are dissimilar to yours. The appraisal district employees investigate and may drive to your property and possibly the comparison property. Using a 1952 frame home that is 2 blocks away as a comp, when your home is a 2001 brick home, does not work effectively and will just muddy the process.
If you are ‘building’ your home or have had damage done, reach out to the appraisal district to find remedies that may help without going through the formal protest process.
Taking time to understand all the various options available for you can save you a lot of money, so do your homework and save yourself a lot of time and energy.