Learn about your right to protest property taxes in Texas. This article explains what to do if you disagree with your property tax appraisal, how to prepare for a protest hearing, and your right to appeal the decision.
The information in this article was written by the Texas Comptroller’s Office. It has been lightly edited for style.
Revised by TexasLawHelp.org on December 6, 2022.
What if I disagree with my property tax appraisal?
Property owners have the right to protest actions concerning their property tax appraisals.
You may protest if you disagree with the appraisal district value or any of the appraisal district's actions concerning your property.
How will I know if my appraisal value has increased?
If the appraisal district sets your property value higher than it did the previous year, they must send a notice of appraised value by April 1 (May 1 for non-homesteads) or as soon as practical after that date.
The notice of appraised value includes information on how to file a protest.
The notice will also include information about how to schedule an informal conference with the appraisal district prior to your formal Appraisal Review Board (ARB) hearing.
What is an ARB?
An ARB is a group of citizens authorized to resolve disputes between taxpayers and the appraisal district. The ARB hears taxpayer protests. The ARB also hears issues that a taxing unit may challenge about the appraisal district's actions.
ARB hearings begin around May 1. The ARB should complete most of the hearings by July 20. In larger counties, this deadline may be later.
What can I protest?
You may protest the value on your property in the following situations:
The value the appraisal district placed on your property is too high and/or your property is unequally appraised.
The appraisal district denied a special appraisal, such as open-space land, or incorrectly denied or modified your exemption application.
The appraisal district failed to provide you with required notices.
Other situations per Tax Code Section 41.41(a).
What form do I need to use to protest the appraised value?
If you are unsatisfied with your appraised value or if errors exist in the property's appraisal records, you may file a Form 50-132, Notice of Protest with the ARB.
In most cases, you have until May 15, or 30 days from the date the appraisal district notice is delivered — whichever date is later.
Pay particular attention to Section 3: Reasons for Protest. The reason you give for for the protest influences the type of evidence you may give at your hearing.
Your appeal options after the hearing are also influenced by what your reasons for protest.
For typical residential property, checking “incorrect appraised (market) value and/or value is unequal compared with other properties” will allow you to present the widest types of evidence and preserve your full appeal rights.
Can I appoint someone to represent me for my protest hearing?
Yes. Property owners and lessees may appoint someone to represent them in handling hearings concerning their property. File Form 50-162, Appointment of Agent for Property Tax Matters to designate someone to represent you for the protest hearing.
What happens after I file my Notice of Protest?
After filing your protest, you will receive written notice of the date, time, place, and subject matter for a formal hearing with the ARB. You can ask for an informal conference with the appraisal district to try to resolve your protest before the hearing. If you are not able to resolve your protest informally, you can continue your protest to the ARB.
At the formal hearing, the ARB listens to both the taxpayer and the chief appraiser. You may discuss your objections about your property value, exemptions, and special appraisal. The ARB's decisions are binding only for the tax year in question.
How should I prepare for your protest hearing?
Below are suggestions to prepare for your protest before the ARB:
Ask one of the appraisal district's appraisers to explain the appraisal.
Check the appraisal to make sure the property description and measurements of your property are correct.
Check the appraisal to see if it accounts for hidden defects — for example, a cracked foundation or inadequate plumbing. Evidence of a hidden defect could be a photograph, or a statement from a builder or independent appraiser.
Ask the appraisal district for the appraisal records on similar properties in the area to learn if similar properties are treated equally.
Consider using an independent appraisal by a real estate appraiser. Insurance records are often helpful.
Get documents or sworn statements from any person providing any sales information.
Use sales of properties that are similar to the subject property in size, age, location, and type of construction.
Use sales that occurred closest to Jan. 1.
Use recent sales.
Weigh the costs of preparing a protest against the potential tax savings. Preparing a protest may not be worth the time and expense if it results in only a small tax savings.
Ask the appraisal district for all information it used to set the value of your property. The appraisal district must give you the copies of the data, even if the information would normally be considered confidential.
Ask for a copy of the data, schedules, formulas, and any other information that the appraisal district plans to introduce at the hearing. The appraisal district must deliver this information during the 14 days before the protest hearing.
When will I find out of the ARB’s decision?
Once the ARB rules on a protest, it will email or mail you its decision.
If the ARB rules in your favor, it will instruct the chief appraiser to notify the taxing units about the change. If you paid the taxes, the taxing units will send you any refund resulting from the change on the appraisal roll.
What if I am dissatisfied with the ARB’s decision?
If you are unsatisfied with the ARB's findings, you have the right to appeal its decision to the state district court in the county where your property is located.
Within 60 days of receiving the ARB's written order, you must file a petition for review with the district court. Before filing a petition, you should consult with an attorney to determine if you have a case.
You also are required to make a partial payment of taxes, usually the amount of taxes that are not in dispute, before the delinquency date. You may ask the court to excuse you from prepaying your taxes. The court will hold a hearing and decide the terms or conditions of your payment.
At the district court, you may ask to have your appeal resolved through arbitration, by a jury, a judge or allowing the property owner to cure their appeal as a timely filed protest. You may also request that the parties engage in settlement discussions before the date of trial.
Can I protest the appraisal value if I lease the property and pay the property taxes?
The right to protest applies to leased land, buildings, and personal property. If you are on a lease that requires you to pay the owner's property taxes, you may protest the property's value to the ARB.
You may file a protest only if the property owner does not.
This article discusses homestead exemptions.
This article examines whether your property taxes can be reduced after a disaster.
This article explains how to get a homestead exemption on a property you inherited in Texas.