I keep reading letters to the editor in the American-Statesman about how unreasonable Travis Central Appraisal District as been this year, and I don’t get it. I’m sure there have been some poor decisions, but I and several of my clients were able to get significant reductions this year in the proposed values initially posted by TCAD. Every year I offer to provide relevant market data to my clients to help them with property tax protests, and this year they have been more successful than in many previous years.
The real news on this subject is that TCAD escalated taxable values so much and so broadly this year that they are still working through the backlog of protests. ALL values were supposed to be certified by the end of July!
I think a client hit the nail on the head a few days ago, saying (to paraphrase) that he went to his first meeting at TCAD prepared, professional, and polite, and he was treated the same way in return. Of course I have no way of knowing, but if the letter-writers who were published in the Statesman approached their hearings with the same belligerence that came through in their letters, then I’m not surprised they didn’t get the results they wanted.
Keep in mind that I am always available to answer your questions or to provide you with market data. What you do with that information is obviously up to you. TCAD appraisers are professionals with a job to do. They have nothing to gain by picking a fight with you, but taxable values are based on reasonable market values, so that’s the conversation you need to have with them. If you go as far as the formal hearing, the appraisal review board representatives you will meet with are volunteers, and they don’t get paid any more or less than $0.00 whether they agree or disagree with your argument.
You’ll be far better served to approach this entire process with the knowledge that the folks on the “other side” are just human beings doing the best they can to reach a fair and reasonable conclusion.
I went very well prepared, professional and polite to my first protest hearing last year when TCAD raised my value 48%. It couldn’t have been more obvious that they didn’t care in the slightest. The TCAD appraiser used out of area properties and out of price-range properties (my home is around $275k according to TCAD and they used comps around $600k). I decided this year (2009) to use the services of an attorney. Same result. I am now looking at the prospect of selling my property in a down market because the tax bill is putting me over the edge into insolvency. I’ve had several realtors evaluate my home and they ALL value it nearly $60k less than TCAD. I know I’m not alone either. I work in a high-volume big box store and talk to a LOT of people every day in the same situation. I think it’s time to pass a law that requires TCAD to purchase your home for what they think it’s worth. Maybe they’d get their appraisals in line with reality then……
Unfortunately, this kind of result does happen sometimes, even when you’re very well prepared. It is obviously too late now to do anything about 2009 property taxes, but if you’re still there in March-April you’ll get a new Notice Of Appraised Value, and you’ll have another opportunity to protest that valuation. Your Notice Of Protest must be filed with TCAD before the last business day of May 2010.
I’ll be happy to do a quick market valuation for you. Just let me know your address if that would be helpful — now or next year. If you have concluded that selling the property is your next step, let’s talk about that, too.