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By law, your county appraiser figures the appropriate value of your property in a uniform and equal manner. The county appraiser does not control the amount of your property taxes and the county does not receive more money by simply raising property values. The value of property in the county is used as a means of spreading the cost of providing local services.
If your property value goes up, it does not necessarily mean you will pay more taxes. Likewise, if your property value goes down or does not change, it does not automatically mean you will pay less or the same amount of taxes.
The money needed for local services is set and budget hearings are held in August. Increases or decreases in property values do not change the amount of tax dollars needed for local public services. These services include roads, parks, fire protection, police protection, public health, and public schools among many others.
The "notice of value" on your land and buildings should be mailed from the county appraiser by March 1, and by May 1 for personal property. If your county appraiser asks for an extension, it may be later than the above date before you get your notice of value.
There are two ways to challenge the value of your property:
If you paid all your taxes prior to December 20th then the protest can be made no later than December 20th (unless an escrow or tax service agent pays your property taxes in full, then no later than January 31st).
You cannot appeal using both methods for the same property in the same tax year. So, if you start to appeal your "notice of value", be sure that you follow through with the appeal. You will not be allowed to "pay under protest" later.
During the informal meeting, the appraiser will show how the appraised value was determined for your property. During or before the meeting, review the record on your property to be sure all the information such as age, style, and size is correct. The county appraiser is interested in appraising property accurately, in a uniform and equal manner, and should not be considered an adversary.
You will want to provide documentation that supports your request for a lower value. Owners who appeal successfully usually do so by finding comparable properties with lower market values or comparable properties that have recently sold for less than the value assigned to their property. Examples of documentation that may be used to support a change in market value include:
The appraiser's office will furnish you with a comparable sales sheet for your property upon request. Allow several days for processing and mail time.
This documentation is not appropriate for agricultural land and commercial personal property appraisals because, by law, such property is not appraised at market value.
Someone else may attend the informal meeting or HOP hearing. However, the owner must complete a "Declaration of Representation" form provided by the county appraiser. Contact your county appraiser for more information.
At a small claims hearing, the owner may appear personally or be represented by an attorney, CPA, certified appraiser, member of the owner's immediate family, or authorized employee by filing a "Declaration of Representation" form with COTA. Generally, COTA requires that the actual property owner appear at the hearing, unless you are represented by an attorney.
COTA members travel around the state. Both parties may present testimony and exhibits at the hearing. Generally, the property owner and the county appraiser must exchange exhibits and a list of witnesses 20 days prior to the hearing, so each side knows what to expect. COTA will provide more specific instructions and may be contacted at 785-296-2388.