Property tax appraised values have been mailed out in Williamson County and we have already received a lot of questions about how to protest your property tax value.
I used to think the process to protest my property taxes was confusing. Then I figured out the tax office has a system and by following directions it has been much easier for me. Hopefully a few of these tips will help you.
Here are a few quick tips I will explain later in more detail.
There is no advantage to being the first person in line to protest your taxes. In fact that makes you “fresh meat” and puts you at a disadvantage.
If you ask the tax office will provide you with the list of properties they will be using in your hearing. Once you know the data they are using it makes your protest easier.
Following the tax office’s system will make your protest more successful. Going to the tax office to protest armed with a CMA from a Realtor is not the best way to protest.
First off, if you bought your home last year and your sales price was below the appraised value send your settlement statement to ExpressInquiry@wcad.org. They may lower it to the sales price or they may add a time adjustment to make your value slightly higher than you paid.
If you didn’t buy last year the following will apply.
In Williamson County you should have the option to protest online and I recommend starting there. Doing an online protest doesn’t mean you can’t reject the value sent back to you and proceed with a protest in person. You have nothing to lose.
To protest online go to wcad.org and click on Online Protests at the top of the page.
On the next page click on File Your Protest.
You may need to create an account on the next page and include your Quick Ref ID and Online Protest ID from the form you received in the mail.
Click on Click here to file a protest.
Most of your property information should be populated but if not you may need to fill in address, etc.
There are 2 reasons you can appeal. Based on market value or based on being unequal to other similar homes sometimes called Equity. Unequal meaning your neighbor’s home shouldn’t have a lower value than yours if the homes are the same. You should check Value is over market and unequal otherwise you can’t protest later based on criteria not chosen now.
Type in a value you feel is appropriate. You do not need to provide comps or any evidence to defend your value at this time.
Click Review Protest.
Click Submit Protest.
Some may receive an instant message and others will receive an email within 5 days from the appraisal district that containing a new value or rejecting your protest. You will have a choice to accept that value or make an appointment to protest your taxes in person at an informal hearing.
When you receive the results of the online protest you will have a period of time (lat year was 5 days) to decide if you want to accept that value or proceed to a hearing.
If you don’t want to accept this new value you will need to schedule a time for an informal meeting. Before this meeting you will want to review the comparable properties the tax office is using.
This is the important tip...When you receive the email or notice after you protest online you should also receive the list of properties the appraisal district used to determine your value. It will say Comparable Sales Click Here. There should also be another choice to see the list of Equity comparable properties used. If you don’t receive this email check your online account at the tax office website. If you do not receive the properties used (I didn’t last year) send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org saying “Please send me all the information that will be used at my hearing.” Include your property address.
It is helpful to look at this information before your informal meeting to see if they are comparing your home to a home that is substantially bigger, has more upgrades or a pool. Instead of asking a Realtor or someone else who is helping you to give you a CMA you should give that person the information you have received to analyze if it is correct.
An informal meeting means you will be making an appointment with a tax office to meet one on one with an appraiser. This is when having the comparable properties helps you. When you go to this meeting you will want to approach your argument from 2 sides; getting them to remove higher priced sales and adding sales that support the value you believe is correct. You may also need to point out features the comparable sales have that are lacking in your home. I have personally had good luck simply from getting the appraiser to remove higher priced homes because they shouldn’t have been included based on location or other criteria. By knowing what homes the tax office is not using that also helps me to bring that specific information for my hearing. Hopefully you can see that by knowing what properties the tax office is using puts you at a tremendous advantage.
A mistake many homeowners make is they believe getting a CMA from a Realtor will be acceptable evidence to protest your taxes. That isn’t how the system works. If your argument is the tax office is valuing your home at $400,000 but a Realtor has done a CMA and shows the value to be $375,000 you will not win. Perhaps the tax office will use the sales the Realtor is showing on a CMA to revise your value but simply bring a CMA to their office will not help.
One piece of advice when it comes to your informal meeting. The appraisers are people just like you and me. When I am in my hearing I often overhear other homeowners yelling at the appraiser and making arguments that will not be successful because that isn’t how the system works. By understanding the process and treating the appraiser with respect I believe you will be more successful and the experience will be less frustrating for everyone.
Back to why you shouldn’t be the first in line to protest. At the end of the protest period there will be much more information available. Whenever you are negotiating having more information puts you at an advantage. I like to wait until after all the professional protesting companies and my neighbors have completed their protests. Remember, one of the ways you can protest is based on it not being fair that my house is appraised at a higher value than the other similar homes in my neighborhood.
Last year that was the basis of my protest. I did not accept the online protest value and scheduled an informal meeting. Before my meeting I went back to look at the homes the tax office was using to establish my value. As it turns out 8 of the 10 homes had already been reduced in value. That made my protest very easy because all I had to do was get the appraiser to update his information and it lowered my value.
Your informal meeting will last about 15 minutes. If you and the appraiser can’t agree on a value acceptable to you there is the option to proceed to a formal hearing. This hearing will be in front of a panel of 3 members. At this hearing you will want to bring copies of your evidence for all 3 members plus the appraiser. During this hearing you will present your evidence and the appraiser will present their evidence and the panel will decide the value.
If after the formal hearing you are still not satisfied you can go to arbitration. The arbitration process will cost you money and is those procedures are outside the scope of this article.
Hopefully some of these tips help your protest. Please remember we are a real estate company helping people sell and buy real estate and we are not able to help individuals protest your taxes. This is a short article only providing some simple tips and the tax office procedures may change after this is published. For specific information about your home we recommend you contact one of the professional companies that can help represent you with your protest.