Protest your property taxes on your own: Tips and advice so you don't have to share your savings

May 6, 2013 8:32:46 PM PDT
Homeowners, be warned: there is a good chance your property taxes are going up.

But you can get the tax burden reduced by protesting the appraised value.

The deadline to protest is May 31. While you can protest your property taxes yourself, many homeowners hire companies to do it for them. But should they?

If you think you can't do it yourself, think again. Self-protests are just as successful as paying for the service.

"The residential taxpayer is not actually benefitting," Dr. Lucille Pointer said. "They would be better to protest their taxes on their own."

University of Houston-Downtown professors Pointer and Chu Nguyen conducted a study and found that homeowners protesting their own property taxes tend to get larger reductions than consultants.

"You don't have to share your savings," taxpayer liaison Theresa Terry said.

Terry is a former appraiser with the Harris County Appraisal District, or HCAD. She says a consulting firm may charge a commission of 50 percent of your tax savings.

Terry says that with a little research, you could save a substantial amount.

"Not to just come in and say, 'my value is overstated,' but to say, 'my value is overstated for these reasons,'" Terry said.

Reasons like home repairs or damage, for example. If your home sustained fire damage or a cracked foundation, the county may not have that on record. But you'll need proof.

"To have someone come out and give an estimate to cure that and restore it," Terry said. "Just as you would do if you were preparing to sell it."

Also, use HCAD's own website to check the values of neighboring homes. If yours is higher, protest. If recently sold homes in your neighborhood were purchased for less than your home's value, you can use that information to lower your values, too. You can file a protest on HCAD's website and opt to get a settlement without ever having to appear in person.

HCAD also offers free advice on how to file a successful protest. You can find all of this information at HCAD.org.

Find Jeff on Facebook at ABC13JeffEhling or on Twitter at @jeffehlingabc13


Load Comments