Deadline Approaching For Property Owners To Protest Tax Valuations

May 12, 2010

Time is running out for most residential and commercial property owners in Harris County to protest property values as determined by the Harris County Appraisal District.

The deadline to file a protest is Tuesday, June 1, for the owners of most homes, commercial buildings and land.

The regular deadline of May 31 is extended to June 1 because it falls on the Memorial Day holiday.

Protest deadlines for business personal property and some real property accounts will be later in the year.  Owners of such property will be provided a formal written notice from HCAD noting their deadlines.

All taxpayers have 30 days from the time their appraisal was mailed to file a formal protest.

The great majority of Harris County homeowners – homes valued at $1 million or less – are eligible to use the online iSettle program to resolve their value protest without having to appear in person at HCAD offices.

Texas law requires protests to be in writing, to identify the property and property owner and to indicate the issue over which the owner disputes HCAD’s notice of value.  Protests may be filed online by using iFile by going to the HCAD website at http://www.hcad.org/ifile.

Homeowners will need the iFile number printed on their appraisal notice to use the iFile process.

Protests may also be mailed or delivered to the district’s office at 13013 Northwest Freeway in Houston.  The appropriate protest form is also available on the district’s website at

http://www.hcad.org/pdf/forms/41-44.pdf.

HCAD Chief Appraiser Jim Robinson is encouraging homeowners to use iSettle as the initial step in pursuing a protest.

“HCAD offers a complete explanation on the step-by-step process on the district’s website that includes a video presentation to help homeowners understand the system’s advantages,” Robinson said.

He also noted there are two important facts about iSettle that homeowners should know:

–      iSettle takes the place of the informal meeting only.  Any homeowner who is not satisfied with an iSettle offer still has the right to appear in person before a three-member panel at an ARB hearing.

–      Homeowners who represent themselves do not have to pay commissions or share the benefits of lower taxes with any agent.

“If you use iSettle and your value is lowered, you get to keep 100 percent of any eventual tax savings you have earned,” Robinson said.

Here are some important links to iSettle information on HCAD’s website that will help homeowners familiarize themselves with the system:

“How To Use” iSettle Video

http://www.hcad.org/howtoisettle.asp

Helpful Things To Know About iSettle

http://www.hcad.org/isettle/

Protest hearings are scheduled to begin in May and, if the past is a guide, will extend throughout most of the rest of the year at a very hectic pace.  Many homeowners who do not use iSettle will be scheduled for an informal meeting much later in 2010.

“Texas law requires that property be appraised at its Jan. 1 market value.  The actual amount of tax due is determined later in the process when tax jurisdictions set their tax rates,” Robinson said.  “HCAD plays no role in the establishment of any jurisdiction’s tax rate.”

For additional information, taxpayers can call HCAD’s Telephone Information Center at 713-957-7800 or visit the appraisal office at 13013 Northwest Freeway in Houston.

Information is also published on HCAD’s website at www.hcad.org.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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