For homestead properties, the early protest deadline is April 30th or 30 days after the date the appraisal district sends a notice of appraised value, whichever is later. If a homeowner misses the new early deadline, the regular protest deadline (May 15) applies. In the case of other real property (land and buildings), the protest deadline is May 15. A later protest deadline may apply if HCAD mails your notice of appraised value after May 1. The May 15 deadline also applies to business and industrial personal property accounts. In all cases where there is a later protest deadline, the date will be printed on the notice of appraised value.
All property taxpayers have the option to logon to iFile at www.hcad.org/ifile for the quickest and most convenient way to file a protest. Value notices have two unique numbers printed on the upper, right-hand side of each notice. One is the property account number, and the other is an iFile code number, unique to that particular property for this year only. Be sure to fill in the correct tax year. After filling out the online form and clicking on a “Submit My Protest” button, you will receive an e-mail acknowledgement indicating that the protest has been received and is awaiting scheduling. When your scheduling notice is sent, you will again be able to use the iFile system to review specific evidence HCAD has regarding your property’s value.
Use of the iSettle (Homeowners' online settlement system) is encouraged by the Harris County Appraisal District. In the iSettle system, homeowners file their protest online, and provide an opinion of the market value of their homestead. HCAD will propose an iSettle value, and if the homeowner accepts that value, the protest process is complete. If the homeowner rejects the iSettle value, the homeowner is scheduled to go directly to an ARB protest hearing.
A protest form is included with the taxpayer’s notice of appraised value. Should you choose to file in person or by mail, HCAD has protest forms and the form explains the protest process. HCAD has protest forms available at its office or online. However, it is not necessary to use an official form. Property Tax Notice of Protest forms are available:
- online at www.hcad.org.
- by telephone at 713-957-7800.
- at HCAD offices located at 13013 Northwest Freeway.
- at any Harris County Tax Office.
A notice of protest must include:
- the property owner’s name;
- the address or legal description of the property that is the subject of the protest; and
- an indication of dissatisfaction with the appraisal made by HCAD.
- The box labeled “value is over market value” must be checked if you believe that HCAD appraised your property’s value higher than its market value.
- The box labeled “unequal value” must be checked if you believe that your property’s value, as appraised by HCAD, is unequal to comparable properties in your neighborhood.
- It is not necessary to give your estimate of appraised value when filing your protest.
- Once you have filed your protest, you may request a copy of the evidence used to determine your protested property’s appraisal value. The request must be made in writing at least 15 days prior to your protest hearing. Requests for protest evidence may be made in person at the address listed above or mailed to: Harris County Appraisal District, Customer Service Department, P.O. Box 922004, Houston, Texas 77292.
- Verify that measurements for your home and lot are correct.
- Gather photographs and statements from contractors if your property has hidden defects, such as a cracked foundation, or needs major repairs.
- You may want to obtain an appraisal of your property’s value from an independent appraiser.
- You may learn the value of your property compared with other properties in your area by visiting HCAD’s Information and Assistance Center at 13013 Northwest Freeway or online at the district’s Web site www.hcad.org. Search by “Range of Addresses.”
Bring four (4) copies of the following items to your appointment for a hearing:
- Your closing statement (if the property was purchased in the last year) or an appraisal report for the property,
- Evidence gathered about your property and other properties in your area, if applicable.
- Any other material you intend to use in your presentation.
Ensure that you have taken all exemptions to which you qualify or are legally entitled:
- Homestead exemption
- Homeowners with disabilities exemption
- Over-65 exemption
- Disabled veteran
- Survivor exemption
- Exemptions remove part of the value of your property from taxation and lower your taxes.
Once you file your written protest or your Property Tax Notice of Protest form, your hearing will normally be scheduled a few weeks thereafter. The appraisal review board will send you a notice with the time, date and place of the hearing. Also listed on the notice will be an appointment, generally one week before the hearing, for you to meet with an HCAD appraiser to discuss your case. Attendance at the appointment to meet with an HCAD appraiser is optional; many cases are resolved in such meetings. Be sure to attend your scheduled hearing; HCAD is reluctant to reschedule your hearing without sufficient cause. It is important to bring your notice of appointment to your first hearing.
Your first meeting will be with a staff appraiser who will review your evidence and the district’s evidence in detail. The appraiser has the authority to settle the protest if the appraiser believes the evidence is sufficient to do so. If a settlement is not agreed upon, a hearing before an Appraisal Review Board (ARB) will be scheduled.
The law requires that you and the HCAD appraiser provide each other with copies of each other’s written evidence to be introduced before the ARB panel. Be sure to have three additional copies of your materials for each of the three ARB panel members. Panel hearings are informal. You should indicate to the panel at the start of the hearing if an unequal appraisal is at issue. The ARB’s panel will ask the HCAD appraiser to first present the district’s evidence supporting its appraised value. Once the HCAD appraiser has finished, you will be allowed to ask questions and to present your evidence. The ARB will also have the opportunity to ask questions needed to clarify any matters when you complete your presentation. Most hearings are allotted 15 minutes. It is very important to prepare a simple, well-organized presentation. At the conclusion of the hearing, the ARB panel will determine if your property was over-appraised. The final decision of the ARB is issued in writing and will be mailed to you via certified mail. If you do not agree with the decision of the ARB, you have the right to appeal the decision to State District Court within sixty (60) days of receiving the written order. If the property is valued at $1 million or less or is a residence homestead, you have the option of appealing through binding arbitration rather than appeal to district court. For property valued at more than $1 million, owners have the option to appeal to a state administrative law judge in a new pilot program administered by the State Office of Administrative Hearings. Information about the appropriate option will be included with your appraisal review board order.
For additional information on protesting your property taxes from the State Comptroller go to http://www.window.state.tx.us