AUSTIN, Texas — If you own property in Texas, you've only got a couple more days to protest your property tax appraisal.
For most counties in Texas, the deadline is Saturday, May 15. In Travis, Williamson, and Hays counties, it's Monday, May 17.
Most counties will let you file protests online, or you can mail them to your county's appraisal district.
In Travis County, the overall appraisal roll went up 12% this year to $322.9 billion, with nearly $4 billion of that in residential property value increases.
"It's a tough situation for a lot of property owners that they see their market values go up. And we're hearing a lot from people about the affordability of housing in Austin. But again, the appraisal district's role is only to report what we see happening in the market. We don't create or dictate what properties sell for," said Marya Crigler, chief appraiser with the Travis Central Appraisal District.
Real estate agents and financial experts recommend protesting the appraisal each year to keep your property taxes low. This year’s appraisal could affect your tax bill due in January 2022.
"It's kind of like a pie," Crigler said. "We slice the pie and give everybody a slice of that pie. We don't determine how big the pie is. How big the pie is is determined by the size of the budget of the taxing entity. So the bigger the pie, the bigger your slice. But your slice proportionately doesn't change because of the appraisals."
According to the state comptroller's office, if the appraisal district appraises your property at a higher amount than in the previous year, Tax Code Section 25.19 requires the appraisal district to send a notice by May 1, or by April 1 if your property is a residence homestead, or as soon as practical thereafter. You can file your protest late in some special circumstances – read more here on this page.
For those interested in filing a protest of their property assessment, some companies will do it for you. Many will ask for a small upfront fee, while others do the paperwork for free. But most companies will take a cut of the money you saved if what you file with them is successful. Usually, if the company fails to lower your property tax bill, you won’t have to pay, but it is always recommended to check the fine print.
If you’d like to instead file the protest yourself, you must file a Form 50-132, Notice of Protest (PDF) with your county's appraisal office.
Some Texas counties will let you file online. You can also get more specific instructions for your Austin-area county here:
Make sure your primary home has a homestead exemption on file – it is essentially free money, a discount on your home's property taxes, in short.
You don't have to file for this every year. If you are unsure about your property's homestead status, check your last tax bill or look up your property's online record at your county's appraisal website.
Once you have a homestead exemption, your appraisal cannot go up more than 10% each year. If you have lived in your home since Jan. 1, you are eligible. If you did not sign up for it, it is not too late for this year. You had until April 30 to apply for it. But the State allows residents to apply for a late exemption even beyond then.
Remember: the process to file for a homestead exemption is always free and simple – don't fall for companies offering this as a paid service (read more here). Check with your county's appraisal district on the specific instructions or for help.
Many of you had damage from the recent winter storm. You may be eligible to get an exemption for a portion of your appraised value. You must apply for that by May 28.
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