The TEXAS Montgomery Central Appraisal District [MCAD] appraises homes and other real estate; this value determines your property tax amount. Reducing your property taxes involves some knowledge and a modest commitment of time, although you do have the option to hire a professional property tax consultant. Basic steps to reducing the taxable value set by the appraisal district include annually protesting market value and / or unequal appraisal annually, reviewing the appraisal district evidence, preparing your case for presentation, attending the informal conference with a staff appraiser, and appearing at a formal appraisal review board (ARB) hearing if necessary.
Note: Most people are not aware that the Texas property tax code makes provision for the property owner to obtain the appraisal district evidence. This information, sometimes called the House Bill 201 package, can be very useful in preparing the case for your reduction.
The administrative appeal process at the appraisal district office usually involves two steps: 1) an informal conference and 2) a formal ARB hearing. Although the property owner is not required to attend an informal hearing, most property tax protests are resolved by agreement between the property owner (or property tax consultant) and a county appraiser at these meetings. County appraisers are supposed to make changes if there is evidence to support the change, but they are typically reluctant to reduce the taxable value for home by significant amounts. The next level of meeting, which can occur if you are not able to reach an agreement one-on-one with the county appraiser, is a formal ARB hearing. Property owners who were not able to settle through an informal conference have a second opportunity to present their case, and are sometimes able to receive resolution at a formal ARB hearing.
It is important to arrive early for your appraisal district meetings and make an effort to have a polite, pleasant, and calm disposition, even if you are feeling anxious. After you check-in with the clerk at the front desk, be ready to wait 30 to 60 minutes. Maybe bring a book or some work to pass the time. Greet the appraisal staff kindly and graciously. At this level, their goal is like yours, to reach a settlement expediently. After you discuss evidence with a county appraiser, they will sometimes make an offer to settle your property tax protest. You can either accept the offer or continue your appeal with the ARB hearing. In most cases, the value offered informally will also be recommended by the county appraiser at the ARB hearing. The appraisal district knows that most property owners are often reluctant to attend the ARB hearing because of the additional time involved and the process of a formal presentation can feel intimidating for some people.
Formal hearings typically consist panels of three or more ARB representatives, the property owner (or property tax consultant ), and the county appraiser. After introductions and a short explanation of the process, the county appraiser will describe the subject property. The property owner presents opening evidence and responds to any questions from ARB representatives. Next, the staff appraiser presents evidence on behalf of the appraisal district and responds to any questions from the ARB panel. The property owner has an opportunity for rebuttal and to respond to any further questions from the ARB panel for clarification of the facts presented. Finally, the ARB panel deliberates and announces a decision. The decision is not subject to further negotiation at the hearing. You should politely thank the ARB members for their consideration. If you are not satisfied with their decision, you may be able to pursue binding arbitration or a judicial appeal.