Homeowners who protest their assessments to the Appraisal Review Board face an uphill fight this year. 

According to Realtor.com median homes prices in DFW rose 12 percent last year over the prior year’s values.  The increase was exceeded in Texas only by Austin’s 39.8% increase.

Listings had declined by 69 percent, second only to Austin’s 73% decline, indicating that the value increases are here to stay.

“One consequence,” according to Jonathan Kutner, owner of Property Tax Protest (propertytaxprotest.com/slm ), “is that this year homeowners cannot afford to rely solely on comparable sales for their protest to the ARB.  The district uses those sales to set 2021 assessments effective Jan. 1 so protesters will need more for a successful protest.”

“Comparable assessments (‘Inequality of Appraisal’) are more important this year than they’ve been in any of the two decades I’ve represented property owners,” Kutner said.

He said homeowners can expect better results if they include “unequal value” as one basis for their protest rather than citing only value over market (comparable sales). 

“But most protests overlook Inequality,” Kutner said.

Inequality is a purely statistical argument for a reduction in a property’s taxable value, he said. 

“If your home is fairly assessed at market but a representative sample of other properties are assessed at, say, 90, 92 and 94 percent of market, then you qualify for an 8 percent reduction” according to Kutner. “The key is the sample and the adjustments.”

“When successful inequality always results in an assessment below market,” according to Kutner, “because it’s applied after market value is determined by the ARB.  But it’s complex and requires good supporting data.  We’ve been doing it for a long time.”

A rising market is a double edged sword for many owners,” according to Kutner.  “It increases their property’s value upon sale but also their taxes in the here and now.  A protest to the ARB is the starting point to exercise control.”

Dallas and Tarrant appraisal districts mailed their 2021 value notices April 16.  The filing deadline for most owners is May 17 or 30 days after you receive a value notice, if you receive one. 

“The district is not obligated to notify all whose values are raised so it’s important to file whether you receive a notice or not.” according to Kutner.  “And since Inequality is a statistical argument it’s important to file whether you consider your proposed assessment fair or not.”

Jonathan Kutner, owner of Property Tax Protest (propertytaxprotest.com/slm), has been a developer and broker of real estate in Dallas for many years.

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