Property Appraisal Protests and Appeals
Your most important right as a taxpayer is your right to protest to the appraisal review board (ARB). You may protest if you disagree with the appraisal district value or any of the appraisal district’s actions concerning your property.
If you are dissatisfied with the ARB’s findings, you have the right to appeal the decision. Depending on the facts and type of property, you may be able to appeal to the state district court in the county in which your property is located; to an independent arbitrator appointed by the Comptroller’s office; or to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH).
If the appraisal district appraises your property at a higher amount than in the previous year, Tax Code Section 25.19 requires the appraisal district to send a notice by May 1, or by April 1 if your property is a residence homestead, or as soon as practical thereafter. If you are dissatisfied with your appraised value or if errors exist in the appraisal records regarding your property, you should file a Notice of Protest with the ARB. In most cases, you have until May 31 or 30 days from the date the appraisal district notice is delivered - whichever date is later.
After filing your protest, you will receive written notice of the date, time, and place for a formal hearing with the ARB. At the formal hearing, the ARB listens to both the taxpayer and the chief appraiser. You may discuss your objections about your property value, exemptions and special appraisal in a hearing with the ARB. Most appraisal districts, however, will informally review your protest with you to try to resolve your concerns prior to a hearing. Check with your appraisal district for details. The ARB's decisions are binding only for the tax year in question.
If you lease property and are required by the lease contract to pay the owner’s property taxes, you may appeal the property’s value to the ARB. You may make this appeal only if the property owner does not. This appeal right applies to leased land, buildings and personal property. The appraisal district will send the notice of appraised value to the property owner, who is required to send a copy to you. If you appeal, the ARB will send any subsequent notices to you.
State law prohibits the Comptroller’s office from advising a property owner, agent or appraisal district about a matter under protest. State law also prohibits the Comptroller's office from intervening in a protest.
Once the ARB rules on a 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 to district court in the county where the property is located. Before filing, you should consult with an attorney to determine if the case is a good one. Within 60 days of receiving the notice of determination from the ARB, you must file a petition for review with the district court. You also must make a partial payment of taxes usually the amount of taxes that are not in dispute, before the delinquency date.
Under specific situations, you may protest after the deadline for filing a protest has passed.
- You may protest failure to receive a notice that the appraisal district or ARB was required to send you. You must file this protest before the delinquency date and you must not allow your taxes to go delinquent.
- You may file a motion for correction that the appraisal district appraised your property at least one-third higher than its market value. You must file this motion before the delinquency date, and you must not allow your taxes to go delinquent. You may not receive a hearing for this reason if the property was subject to an earlier protest for the year.
- You may file a motion for the correction of a clerical error, multiple appraisals, including property on the appraisal roll that should not have been included, or an error of ownership. This type of late hearing may include the current year and the five previous tax years.
- You may ask the chief appraiser to agree to do a joint motion to correct. If both the chief appraiser and you are in agreement on the late change, then the ARB will approve the change.
If the ARB rules in your favor, it will instruct the chief appraiser to notify the taxing units about the change. If you paid the taxes, the taxing units will send you any refund resulting from the change on the appraisal roll for your property.
As an alternative to filing an appeal to district court, you may have the right to appeal through binding arbitration. Binding arbitration is available for market or appraised value determinations by ARBs. Unequal appraisal determinations may also be the subject of a request for binding arbitration. Binding arbitration is available only if your property is:
- a residential homestead, regardless of value; or
- a property with an appraised value of $1 million or less.
To appeal an ARB order to binding arbitration, you must file with the appraisal district not later than the 45th day after receiving notice of the order. To apply for binding arbitration, you must complete the Comptroller's request form and submit it with your $500 deposit. You must make your deposit in a money order or cashier's check, payable to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Although your deposit is made payable to the Comptroller's office, you must file it, along with your application, in the appraisal district in which the ARB order was issued. The appraisal district will complete the application and forward your request and deposit to the Comptroller's office.
After receiving your request from the appraisal district, the Comptroller's office will send you a website address featuring a registry of available arbitrators. At the website, you and the appraisal district may select a mutually agreeable arbitrator. If you and the appraisal district cannot agree on an arbitrator, the Comptroller's office will make the selection for you. The appointed arbitrator will arrange for an arbitration proceeding, where he or she will issue a decision concerning your property's value.
If the arbitrator's decision is closer to the value you claim to be correct, the appraisal district will pay the arbitrator's fee and the Comptroller's office will refund your deposit, less 10 percent that law requires our office to retain to cover administrative costs.
If the arbitrator's decision is closer to the value determined by the ARB, or equal to half of the difference between your value and the ARB's value, then the arbitrator's fee is paid from your deposit. The Comptroller's office will retain 10 percent to cover administrative costs. After the arbitrator's fee is paid, if the fee is less than $450, the balance will be refunded to you.
If you request binding arbitration, the amount of taxes that are not in dispute must be paid before the delinquency date.
Once the ARB rules on your protest, it will send you a written order by certified mail. If you are dissatisfied with the ARB’s findings, you have the right to appeal its decision to the state district court in the county in which your property is located.
You should consult with an attorney to determine if you have a case. Within 60 days of receiving the written order (when you sign for the certified mail), you must file a petition for review with the district court.
You also are required to make a partial payment of taxes, usually the amount of taxes that are not in dispute, before the delinquency date. You may ask the court to excuse you from prepaying your taxes; to do so, you must file an oath attesting to your inability to pay the taxes in question and argue that prepaying the taxes restrains your right to go to court on your protest. The court will hold a hearing and decide the terms or conditions of your payment.
At the district court, you may ask to have your appeal resolved through arbitration, by a jury or by a judge.
If the property value as determined by the ARB order is over $1,000,000, you may be able to file an appeal with SOAH. You may only appeal to SOAH if the appeal concerns the determination of the appraised or market value of the property under Tax Code Section 41.41(a)(1) or an unequal appraisal under Tax Code Section 41.41(a)(2). This option to appeal is applicable to determinations concerning real or personal property, other than industrial property, and minerals.
To appeal an ARB order to SOAH, you must file a Notice of Appeal by Property Owner with the chief appraiser of the appraisal district within 30 days of receiving the order of determination from the ARB. You must also file a $1,500 deposit with the chief appraiser within 90 days of receiving the order of determination.
As soon as practicable after receiving of a Notice of Appeal by Property Owner, the chief appraiser must indicate, where appropriate, those entries in the records that are subject to the appeal. The appraisal district will forward the deposit and Notice of Appeal by Property Owner to SOAH and request the appointment of a qualified administrative law judge to hear the appeal.
For more information on this process, visit the SOAH's website at www.soah.state.tx.us.