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How to Fight Your Property Taxes in Travis and Williamson Counties

On April 6th, Jeff Bullard, formerly of Texas ProTax, visited Twin Creeks Country Club for his annual discussion on how to fight your property taxes.  Below, you'll have access to the three handouts that I provided at the seminar and also access to the audio file of his presentation.  If you'd like to see my notes from the evening you can find them below the audio file.  

 

Year End Checklist8 Things to Know About Your Property TaxesTexas Property Tax Calendar

 

You can listen to the entire presentation by clicking here.  It should offer the chance to download.

 

Property Tax Seminar Notes
 
Speaker:  Jeff Bullard - 30 years of experience -
No longer affiliated with ProTax but still recommends them as best in the business.
 
Hire Texas ProTax if you are not going to fight your taxes yourself....even if you are doing it yourself.
 
Important NoteS: 
THERE IS A 10% CAP ON WHAT YOU ARE LEGALLY REQUIRED TO PAY ON APPRAISAL INCREASE.  
DO NOT PROTEST EARLY - PROTEST TOWARDS DEADLINE OF MAY 31ST
 
46 Bills introduced into legislation with property tax implications.
 
Texas has no income tax so they rely heavily on sales tax and property tax.
 
Texas Property Tax Calendar 
Two important dates:
Jan 1st - effective date of your tax appraisal.  As if they took a picture of your property and that's what they tax you on.
     - a pool put in during December will be included in the Jan 1st appraisal
     - wait another month
May 31st - Last day to file written protest to contest proposed tax appraisal or exemption denial, unless notices mailed after May 1
     
They have moved up their timelines and are having hearings much earlier.  DO NOT PROTEST EARLY
 
ProTax had more than 44,000 protests in Travis County last year.
 
Sales have not been helping you as much as equity has.  On equity, you're appealing your tax appraisal to the tax appraisal of other homes that are similar to yours.  That's a huge difference compared to Sales/Market comparisons.
If you bought your home for less than they have on record.  If you provide the settlement statement generally they will lower your appraisal.
 
There's a number of factors that go into your appraisal.  If you can get them to change one of the characteristics in their systems criteria, this will help you for years going forward.  (class, grade, etc)
 
How manyy years can you use the settlement statement? 
     -about a 15 month window that they will accept the statement 
 
You need to provide useful data and information and give them an excuse to change your appraisal...to change a characteristic.
 
BE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION ON YOUR PROPERTY as long as it's your primary residence.  You are able to file for the previous year if you missed it.
traviscad.org IS YOUR FRIEND.
 
Jeff noticed that there about 10 companies in a 5 block radius of the club house that are listed amongst the addresses.  THOSE ARE TAXABLE.  THE APPRAISAL DISTRICT CAN COME AFTER THAT.  ANY ASSET USED IN PRODUCTION OF INCOME IN TEXAS IS TAXABLE.
 
Williamson and Travis Counties use different software.  Williamson has gone light years ahead of Travis in terms of their asset valuation technique and quality of staff.  Williamson will require a much tighter case and will be a harder argument.
 
OVER 65 EXEMPTION.  IF YOU'RE OVER 65 GET THE EXEMPTION IMMEDIATELY.  IT FREEZES THE TAX AMOUNT.  ALLOWED TO GO BACK ONE YEAR RETROACTIVELY.
 
Disability Exemptions - a disabled person - someone that has been deemed disabled by the Social Security Administration - is eligible for exemption.
Disabled Veterans - an all or nothing scenario - if you're 100% disabled in service then you pay no property taxes but if you're not 100% disabled there are 0 breaks.
 
Investment properties are not covered by exemptions.
 
You can have up to 20 acres covered by Homestead exemption.
 
There is an online protest capability for both counties.  The online appellants end up with about 40-50% of the reduction that a personal appelant will end up with.
 
Texas Protax keeps track of every protest that is filed.  Every week they get a report of those that were settled the week before.  They know every single home that has been given an adjustment and all the notes the appraisal district has put into their internal systems.
That information is public but you cannot get it.  
 
If you have a parent that is over 65 you can grant them a Life Estate.  They now have the right to occupy your property.  By giving them that right your parents can then apply for an over 65 exemption.  Needs to be their primary residence.
 
A 15% adjustment is about all you'll get from the initial cubicle meeting.  They will need to get supervisor on more than that, which will require strong evidence...but it is possible.
 
Comps are generated by "property profiles", which are more or less neighborhoods.  They will grab sold comparables and equity comparables.  They usually do a good job of grouping homes with similar qualities.  For example, Twin Creeks is broken into a few different groups, including one group that only borders the golf course.  
 
Property Profiles - 
 
They have moved their entire scheduling up 30 days, which has caused them to go faster and you may see some looseness in valuations...more "errors". 
 
Zillow is worthless.  Appraisal district will pay no attention to it.  You will need MLS data.
You'll need between 3-5 sales comps.  Use the 5 best.  
Use 10 for equity.
 
Trick that the employees use at appraisal district:  Sometimes they will not take comps that you bring in and will tell you that if they are not in their system they cannot accept them.  Bogus info...it's inaccurate.  They are being lazy.
 
Request tax payer information packet - THEY MUST 14 DAYS IN ADVANCE OF YOUR HEARING THEY MUST SEND TO YOU ALL THE DATA THAT THEY CAN CONCEIVABLY INTRODUCE TO DEFEND THEIR APPRAISAL.
 
How do they value your property?
If you have a view, you have a premium.  Golf course frontage, etc.  
Classes range from 2-8.  
Each class has a unit value for per square foot.  Then they will modify by age, condition, living area size, grade factor (street appeal), 
5 and 5+ is what you'll see in most of the Twin Creeks area.
5 is first level of upscale builder.
6 is first level of a custom home.
 
They are able to see building permits to check for improvements.  They can add an improvement that you've made to your house...ie, MIL suite, office, etc.  Any REPAIRS SHOULD NEVER BE COUNTED AS AN IMPROVEMENT.
 

Thank you for reading! If you like blogs like this, please comment below or email me to help you analyze the market in your neighborhood today! 

My name is Laura Ivy Blessing and I blog about the Austin area known and lesser known happenings with a splash of real estate savvy for today's buyers and sellers.  blessing@kw.com  512-789-5087

Comment balloon 2 commentsLaura Ivy Blessing 512-789-5087 • April 07 2017 08:01PM
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