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Right on the Money: How to protest your property tax appraisals

You have 30 days from the date on the notice to contest the valuation on your property.

DALLAS —

Property owners across North Texas are getting their appraisals. For many, valuations have gone up — again. Those increases may be especially hard to digest during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. 

There are a lot of suggestions for anyone protesting their valuation, but that process may look a lot different this year.

You have 30 days from the date on the notice to contest the valuation on your property. And check with your appraisal district — some of them, including the Dallas Central Appraisal District, are closed due to COVID-19.

DCAD will not be conducting any in-person protests. Informal protests will simply be a matter of a property owner uploading information and sending it in electronically. Formal protests with DCAD will involve the property owner and just one member of the review board instead of the usual three, and those proceedings will take place online. Denton and Tarrant CAD offices are closed right now as well. Collin CAD’s offices are open.

For anyone interested in protesting valuations this year, click the following links:

2020 appraisal trends in North Texas

Looking at all homes and businesses, including new construction, here is some of what is happening this year with appraisals in the largest counties in North Texas:

Collin CAD

  • 97,079 properties with appraisals that DECREASED from the year before.
  • 70,917 properties with appraisals that were roughly unchanged from the year before.
  • 118,038 properties with appraisals that INCREASED from the year before.
  • Overall, the estimated increase in taxable value for all properties in the Collin CAD: 4.55%.

Dallas CAD

  • 28,815 properties with appraisals that DECREASED from the year before.
  • 328,896 properties with appraisals that were roughly unchanged from the year before.
  • 374,618 properties with appraisals that INCREASED from the year before.
  • Overall, the estimated increase in taxable value for all properties in the Dallas CAD: 16.79%.

Denton CAD

  • 82,073 properties with appraisals that DECREASED from the year before.
  • 34,925 properties with appraisals that were roughly unchanged from the year before.
  • 186,882 properties with appraisals that INCREASED from the year before.
  • Overall, the estimated increase in taxable value for all properties in the Denton CAD: 2%.

Tarrant CAD:

  • 280,000 properties with appraisals that DECREASED from the year before.
  • 170,000 properties with appraisals that were roughly unchanged from the year before.
  • 207,000 properties with appraisals that INCREASED from the year before.
  • Overall, the estimated increase in taxable value for all properties in the Tarrant CAD: 5-6%.

Calculating property taxes

Those increases in taxable value will change as adjustments, including changes due to valuation protests, are calculated. Of course, the appraisal is only half the equation. Your appraised value is multiplied by the tax rate (which will be set several months from now by taxing entities like cities and school districts). That’s when you will know your tax bill. 

But if your appraised value increases — even if tax rates stay the same — your tax bill will go up.

Big tax fight possible in the months ahead

In the last legislative session, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2. It limits how much local taxing authorities can raise their tax rates before having to get the approval of voters. The rate was capped at a maximum 3.5% increase. 

But because Gov. Abbott recently declared a statewide disaster because of COVID-19, some, like the Texas Municipal League, have argued that it triggers a provision in the bill that allows taxing entities to raise their tax rates by a full 8% before having to seek the approval of voters. 

Gov. Abbott says he does not interpret the law the same way. And because of the economic struggles caused by COVID-19, he is calling on local taxing authorities to lower their tax rates this year. This all sets up a potential showdown between state leaders and local taxing jurisdictions in the months ahead.

Ordinary property owners can’t do anything about tax rates right now, but they can make the argument that an appraisal is too high, especially since all valuations were done before the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downfall it created.

Protesting appraisals

Chandler Crouch, a Tarrant County realtor, has arguably become the foremost fighter of tax appraisals in North Texas after he started posting do-it-yourself videos several years ago on how to properly make your case at the appraisal office. He has since been helping people protest appraisals in primarily Tarrant County at no charge. And he has helped Dallas Realtor Ben Lauer to set up a similar system to help people protest appraisals in Dallas County.

Crouch says property owners may be surprised by how much the appraisal district is willing to bend this year.

"They are looking for every excuse in the world to agree to a value that the homeowner thinks is fair — if they can find the evidence to support that. That is just what I have seen," Crouch said.

Crouch has shared a lot more information for those who are contesting their valuations. Listening to what he has to say in this episode of WFAA’s Y’all-itics podcast could save you a lot of money and a lot of frustration as you go through the process.

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