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Using comparable sales information to protest your taxes in Travis County?

published on June 2, 2009

I recently visited the Travis County Central Appraisal District (TCCAD) to protest my property taxes for my primary residence.  When I protested my taxes, the TCCAD representative told me that TCCAD uses comparable sales information for homes sold between 1/1/08 and 2/25/09 when calculating your 2009 tax value.  Any comparables sold after those dates would only be applicable for 2010 property taxes.  Even though prices dropped mostly in the 4th quarter of 2008 and the 1st quarter of 2009, I was told that the tax code allows TCCAD to use comparables that were sold anytime between 1/1/08 and 2/25/09 rather than just the most recent sold comparables.  TCCAD takes advantage of this privilege when calculating our 2009 property tax values.  While TCCAD did have comparable sale information for about 10-20 homes in my neighborhood of 250+ homes, they did not have comparable sales information about every home sold between 1/1/08 and 2/25/09. 

Since TCCAD does not have access to the Austin Board of REALTORS® multiple listing service, they do not have direct access to comparable sales information unless it is given to them. Therefore, if anyone plans to provide comparable sales information to a TCCAD agent when protesting their property taxes, they should be aware that they could be risking an unfair increase in neighborhood tax appraisal prices if they provide information about a comparable sale that is higher than those already on record at TCCAD.  If you DO have access to comparable sales information in your neighborhood and are thinking about sharing it with a TCCAD representative, you may want to first verify what comparable sold information TCCAD already has in their system before sharing other comparable sales information.  Even better, there are companies that can represent you with your tax protest.  I don’t have any personal experience with this type of service, but a few people have mentioned “Texas Pro Tax” to me and I got something in the mail from “Cut My Taxes”. 

If you are looking for creative ways to cut your property tax bill, one idea is to have your house measured by an appraiser or by the Travis County Central Appraisal District themselves.  My home was built within the last 3 years and I noticed that the square footage on the tax records were higher than the builder floor plans.  I called TCCAD about the problem and they were kind enough to send two employees to my home to hand measure.  They discovered that my home square footage was overstated by more than 150 square feet, which increased my property tax bill by around $500.   Adjusting the square footage has made a material impact to my property tax bill.  If you are finding that the tax records are showing your square footage higher than they really are then you should contact your builder to get evidence of this fact.  You can then provide this evidence to TCCAD, which is a legitimate way to get your property taxes lowered.

Disclaimer: This blog was written by Austin REALTOR® Brian Talley of Regent Property Group LLC.  The information contained herein is subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice.  Any information, statistics, analytics, recommendations or opinions provided in this report are subject to errors and/or omissions and are not in any way guaranteed as accurate or reliable by Brian Talley or by Regent Property Group LLC.

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