Dallas Metro North - Sandy Bolinger

It’s Time to Protest Your Texas Property Taxes

The purpose of this article is to offer guidance on the process and a proper approach to successfully protesting property value.

Property Taxes are one of the largest home expenses faced by Texas homeowners. Every year the appraisal districts will mass appraise all the properties in their jurisdiction. This value then determines what your taxes will be for the following year. Thankfully you have the right to protest!

While you may not save a fortune in any given year, with a yearly effort, you could end up saving several hundred to several thousand dollars over-time. Maintaining your property value through yearly protests will keep more of your hard-earned cash in your pocket.

It’s just a hunch, but I bet you could find a more enjoyable way to spend it.

Let’s look at Two Common Misconceptions:

1. If I protest I won’t be able to sell my home for more!
This is not true.
The appraisal district’s assessed value is not indicative of the true market value. True market value is decided when a willing buyer and a willing seller agree to buy and sell. The appraisal districts value is set by using last years sales. When you list your home in the spring, your agent will use current sales to arrive at the current value.

2. If I protest, the appraisal district might retaliate and raise the value higher!
Again, not true. Protesting is your right. The appraisal district can only raise the current value higher - if you make the request to do so - please don’t do this. If you fail to show good reason to lower the value further, the value will simply remain the same.

How do the numbers work?

Great Question! Let’s start with the Homestead Exemption - The homestead exemption does two things for property tax purposes.

  1. Sets a limit on the amount of annual increase to the taxable value to not exceed the lesser of:
    • the market value of the property; or the sum of:
      • 10% of the appraised value of the property for the preceding year;
      • the appraised value of the property for the preceding year; and
      • the market value of all new improvements to the property.
  2. Lowers the amount of the taxable value
    • the current (2024) Texas school tax exemption is $100,000
    • other discounts my apply to your county or city taxes - varies by city and county - check your statement

*Read more about the benefits of a homestead and how to file.
- Check out Denton County – FAQ
- Comptroller – Valuing Property

- Protest Form

Market (Appraised) Value vs. Taxable (Assessed) Value

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that you are protesting market value, not the assessed value. The appraisal district does not set tax rates, nor do they have any control over the billed amount. The appraisal district simply determines market value.

Market value is the estimated amount active buyers would be willing to pay for your home. Your home’s market value is determined by an appraiser, or by an estimate given by a real estate agent when you are listing your home on the market. Market value is the only value permitted to be protested, through the Appraisal District.

Assessed value, on the other hand, takes the market value and puts it in the context of your property taxes. Assessed Value is a statutory calculation based on the previous year’s assessed value and cannot be protested. As a result, the assessed value of a property is typically lower than appraised market value. How much the Assessed value can increase is limited by the 10% homestead cap.

In the example below, you can see in 2022 the appraised value of this home jumped $112,601.00, but the homestead cap saved the home owner $69,901 in Assessed value. The home was then sold in 2022, so the new 2023 value was set at the new purchase price. The new owner will now need to protest in 2024 to lower the Market value, this in turn will adjust the Assessed value - because it is currently equal to Market Value. And, this is were a yearly protest pays off!

Screenshot 2024-02-06 at 3.14.42 PM.png

Steps for a Texas Property Tax Appeal - Denton County

STEP 1. Read Your Assessment Letter
Denton CAD will begin mailing out “Notice of Appraised Values” in April-May each year.
The determination of value is based on your property value as of January 1 of that year. (If you have a house fire on January 2nd - it will not be considered.)

*Check your Notice to confirm your deadline. There is not one set deadline.* You typically have 30 days (from the date of mailing - not the date received) to file a protest form.

*Here’s the link for Denton County.
On the main page, enter your address, you’ll be directed to your properties detail page.

STEP 2. Check the Data & File the Protest Form by Your Deadline
Check that the districts data about your home is true… location, # bedrooms, sq ft, age, lot size, school district, etc. If the data works against you, report it to the district. If the mistake is in your favor - it’s not your responsibility to correct it.
-Ex. the district shows that you have 3 bedrooms but you really have 4 bedrooms- not your responsibility.

There are two ways to turn in your Protest Form:

    1. Through the eFile Portal (fill out the protest form in the Portal) Under Section 3, select: *Incorrect appraised (market) value and/or value is unequal compared with other properties.
    2. Download and print out a protest form HERE and either
      Mail it to: DCAD, 3911 Morse St, Denton, TX 76208 (or) Drop it off at the front of our building (same address)

When submitting your protest form, you can request an informal review with a DCAD appraiser. This is the easiest way to protest, try to settle in the review stage.

The quickest and most efficient way to file is through the eFile Portal.

Access the eFile Portal HERE

Begin collecting your evidence to support your value and submit it as quickly as possible. Evidence is required to be uploaded at least 10 days before your hearing.

Helpful evidence includes: Fee based or bank appraisal, closing statement, current photos with date stamp, estimates for repairs needed but not completed, Sold comps, or any other documentation relevant to support a lower value.

If you know a REALTOR® willing to help with your evidence, ask them to send 3-5 SOLD properties from last year that match your home. The MLS photos and agent descriptions will assist in comparing your home to the sold properties. If you’re lucky enough to know an agent who will complete the CMA calculations for you - even better.

Need help with Comps - I can help. Just fill out this form.

Once the correct comps have been identified, check the district’s online assessments of these properties. Make note of any assessments that are lower than yours. If the assessments are similar, you may be able to show that the comp property is superior to your home - to find relief based on equity. For example, your neighbor extended the patio or added a pool.

You should also note any qualified negative influences. This could be a busy street, a water tower, sewer plant nearby, electric lines looming overhead, or a commercial property bordering your residential area, etc. Pictures are worth a thousand words! Print a satellite view of your property and the surrounding area. Most of the time you can find something negative to use.

You may also find relief if your home has a major defect that negatively impacts value, such as a foundation that needs to be repaired, or a roof that needs to be replaced. Take pictures of any needed repairs, and of any “negative influences” surrounding your property. Get quotes for the repairs. All of this information will be the evidence you submit to support your protest.

Be clear in your opinion of value and support that value with the evidence. Appraisers respect property owners who understand their opinion of value and can support their opinion with facts.

Protest Deadline: Read your Notice!

Step 3: Upload Evidence

Submit your evidence through the eFile Portal

STEP 4: DCAD Appraiser will reach out to you

Once DCAD receives your Protest Form, a DCAD appraiser will review your protest and will contact you through the eFile portal

★ Be patient and Regularly check your portal.

STEP 5: Informal Review

An informal review can be completed through the messaging feature in the eFile portal, by telephone, or in-person. Most cases are settled here, try your best to settle in this stage if possible. If an agreement can not be reached in the informal hearing, you will need to proceed to the formal hearing.

If an agreement can be made in the informal review, prior to the date of your scheduled ARB hearing, the ARB hearing will be canceled, the settlement will be recorded, and the protest will be closed out. Congrats!

Step 6: Formal Hearing with the Appraisal Review Board (ARB)

If an agreement is NOT made prior to the scheduled hearing, the owner will need to proceed with the FORMAL ARB hearing at the scheduled date and time.

You will need to request a copy of the evidence the ARB has used to establish the value of your property. Be prepared to explain why it does not apply. The ARB will need hard copies of your evidence for all in-person hearings.

★ Review How to Present your Case at an ARB Hearing here

If you would rather not handle the hearing yourself, you may still have the opportunity to hire an agent to represent you. Select the company immediately and notify the ARB of the change

If you handle the hearing yourself - Be polite and stick to the facts

Don’t waste the limited time you have talking about The Tax Rate, How tax money is spent, your thoughts on the legality of the process, or any other extraneous information not directly tied to the value of your property.

You won’t be able to ignore the higher home sales. If you are excluding data from your presentation - you need to be able to explain why. If your facts rest on the condition of your home - not being comparable to the other homes - be prepared with pictures and estimates from licensed contractors.

The Appraisal Review Board will listen to both sides before making a decision. The chief appraiser has the burden of proving the property value. If the chief appraiser fails to make a case, the ARB must rule in your favor.

The ARB will hold between 20 to 40 property review meetings, so stick to the evidence and remain calm. Upsetting or yelling at the ARB will in no way end in a win. There is definitely a human element involved when negotiating a reduction so be kind, stick to the hard evidence, and put your emotional and personal feelings away. If you follow these rules it will greatly increase your odds of winning.

I hope this article has shed some light on how the process works, and how you can effectively protest your property value with a solid case.

Property Owner Tax Exemptions
Check out Denton County – How to Protest
Comptroller Video – Homeowners Guide to Protest - slow but informative

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