Time is running out to fight your property tax appraisal

Jeff Ehling Image
Wednesday, May 6, 2015

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- If you're like most homeowners, you were probably surprised when you received your property tax appraisal last month. If you're thinking of protesting those taxes this year, you're not alone.

Many are calling it the sticker shock of 2015. As home values increased, so did the tax bills. But there are options to help you lower your taxable value. You can file a protest. But time is running out.

When Bettie Patterson learned her property tax assessment increased this year, she wasn't too pleased.

"It was just shocking," said Patterson.

Juan Bonita was surprised as well.

"They were $1,500 and they went up to $2,000," said Bonita.

Both homeowners, along with many others are attending a property tax workshop held by the Harris County Appraisal District. The goal is to educate homeowners on the appraisal process, and to provide them with the tools needed to possibly reduce their tax burden.

"We want them to understand the exemptions that they are entitled to," said Jack Barnett with the Harris County Appraisal District.

Barnett says the most common one is the homestead exemption, which could apply to many homeowners.

"If you own and occupy your home, generally you are entitled to claim that," said Barnett.

Barnett adds for someone living in Houston within HISD, generally 20 percent of their appraised value is excluded from taxation with the homestead exemption.

There are also exemptions for people who are over 65 years old and the disabled.

If you have all the exemptions but think the assessed value is too high you must prove your case during a protest hearing.

When you file your protest you will be given the addresses of the homes the Appraisal District is using to calculate your home's value.

If your 1970's era home is being compared to neighboring homes that are new, your value may be too high. If your home needs upgrades but is being compared to homes that have been renovated, your value may be too high.

But remember, you must prove our case.

"They may have a cracked slab. They may have some roof damage. Bring photos. Bring repair estimates because we would need to document why we would change that value," said Barnett.

Homeowners have until June 1st to protest those property values. There are several workshops scheduled throughout Harris County.

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