What to Know: Protesting 2020 Property Tax Appraisals During COVID-19
By Tarrant Appraisal District
Posted on May 01, 2020, May 01, 2020

Property Tax Appraisals
Tarrant Appraisal District (TAD) will begin mailing 2020 Property Value Notices on Friday, May 1, 2020. The deadline to file a protest for all properties will be extended to June 1, 2020, or 30 days from the mail date listed on the notice, whichever is later.

The Texas Property Tax Code requires appraisal districts to appraise all taxable property at its market value as of January 1, which was before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the economy. Appraising properties as of the January 1 date could appear to some that TAD doesn’t care or TAD doesn’t have a heart, but that’s simply not true. Appraisal districts across the state sought guidance from the Governor’s office to either waive or suspend certain laws regarding the January 1st assessment date and the 10% homestead cap values. At this time, none of these laws have been suspended or waived.

TAD has considered sales data as well as cost and income related information in performing its 2020 appraisals; however, TAD also weighed the data that TAD has access to in determining whether there was clear and convincing evidence to justify upward adjustments in the 2020 appraisal roll. If a property owner has market-related data, which clearly indicates the COVID-19 crisis has impacted their value as of January 1, TAD may consider this evidence.

Under Texas law, appraisal districts are required to notify property owners about changes in their property’s value. It is important for homeowners to understand that the market value for their property might not increase for 2020. However, if their “appraised value,” also known as “homestead capped value,” was limited by the 10% appraisal cap rule in 2019, the appraised value could go up as much as 10%. This will be shown on their 2020 appraisal notice. The market value would show no increase, but the appraised value would be different in 2020 as compared to 2019. This change may result in an increase in property taxes, but it is the result of a math formula and not based on appraisal judgement.

Speaking with TAD about your appraisal prior to filing a formal protest in 2020

TAD always tries to resolve any issues or value disputes informally. This year, as a result of the stay home order imposed by our State and local officials, for safety, our lobby remains closed to the public until further notice. TAD is developing new and safer methods of interacting with the public under these circumstances. TAD needs the public’s help.

If property owners do come to the TAD office, there will be a short radio broadcast transmitted from our office to your car radio. Don’t get out of your car until you have listened to the information provided through this broadcast. The purpose is to inform everyone on how they need to proceed with protesting and filing for exemptions during this unfamiliar time.

The tools you need to contact TAD are online along with informative and helpful videos. Our number one goal is to ensure the health and safety of the public, our staff, and the Appraisal Review Board (ARB) members. When our office is reopened to the public, TAD may require visitors to wear masks and limit the overall number of visitors in the building at any one time. These restrictions will be based upon the advice of state and local guidelines.

The first tool to consider is an online account at TAD.org (https://www.tad.org/). A property owner’s account information can be accessed through their online account/dashboard. If property owners have not already set up their online account, the dashboard can be set up now using the PIN information found on their 2020 Property Value Notice. If they have not received a current year value notice, they can use the PIN from the 2019 Property Value Notice. For new property owners, as of January 1, 2020, a PIN was included on a Sales Survey Letter mailed around the time of the purchase.

With all the restrictions in place on public gatherings, our work will have to be accomplished remotely through our online portal, our phone system, or through email. Access to the building and customer service areas will be limited, so everyone should expect telephone lines to be very busy. TAD highly encourages folks to use the website as a means to resolve any value disagreements before calling. And please be patient with us this year.

The second tool might be the TAD.org news article answering Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) related to COVID-19 for other general questions. The third tool might be the helpful videos on TAD.org to educate property owners.

Filing a Formal Protest in 2020

Filing a protest online will be the fastest, easiest and safest way to file this year. Creating an online account will provide the property owner the opportunity to view sales data TAD used to value your property, submit an opinion of value, submit any value related documents for TAD to review, for residential owners, participate in automated value negotiation and possibly resolve your value without a formal hearing. But property owners need to keep in mind that protesting their “homestead capped value” may not be a viable option. This is a math calculation and not an opinion of value developed by an appraiser. The ARB hears protests for market value and not capped value.

If a property owner cannot use the online protest feature, property owners still have the option of filing a written protest with the appraisal review board. Telephone calls, text messages, faxes or emails will not constitute the filing of a written protest. If you do not have access to online filing, please file your protest using the 2020 Notice of Protest located on the back of the 2020 Property Value Notice and send it to TAD by mail. TAD will accept a protest from property owners if they are postmarked by June 1, 2020.

Any formal hearings between property owners and the ARB members may be delayed until late June, July or August. Every effort will be taken to avoid face to face contact during this time until it is considered safe to resume hearings.

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