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About the Travis Appraisal Review Board

When the Texas Legislature enacted the Texas Property Tax Code, they realized the need to have an administrative remedy, outside of district court, for property owners to address concerns relating to the appraisal district’s determination of market values. The answer was the establishment of Appraisal Review Boards (ARB). The ARB is an independent, impartial group of citizens authorized to resolve disputes between taxpayers and the appraisal district.

For cost savings purposes the ARB meets at the Appraisal District office; however, it is not controlled by the appraisal district and is a separate authoritative body. The ARB has no role in the day-to-day operations of the appraisal office or in appraising the property. The ARB only has authority over protests submitted to it. Only in resolving taxpayer protests can the ARB make changes or set a value on its own. Such a change only affects the property in question and decisions are binding only for the year in question.

The ARB sits in panels of three to hear testimony and review evidence to determine property owner protests which cannot be resolved informally with the Travis Central Appraisal District. It must base its decisions on facts it hears from the property owner and from the appraisal district to decide whether the appraisal district acted appropriately in determining the value of property. While this is a broad and significant responsibility,

the ARB must be sensitive to its legal and practical limits while adhering to the Texas Property Tax Code and laws of this state. ARB members cannot discuss your case with anyone outside of the hearing; however, protest hearings are open to the public, and anyone can sit in and listen to the case.

ARB members are appointed by the Local Administrative District Judge for two-year terms. At the end of their term, an ARB member may reapply for another period of two years for a total of three consecutive two-year terms. To qualify for service on the ARB, an individual must be a resident of the Travis County for at least two years before taking office. No employees or officers of the Appraisal District or the taxing units it serves may sit on the ARB. Any person who is a former member of the governing body or officer or employee of a taxing unit, or is a former director, officer, or employee of the Appraisal District is ineligible to serve. Also, the person’s close relatives cannot work as professional tax agents or tax appraisers within the Appraisal District. ARB members also must comply with a particular conflict of interest laws.

ARB members tend to be retired professionals with excellent analytical and people skills needed to evaluate and make determinations based upon the evidence presented by the property owner and the appraisal district. An unexpected benefit from being an ARB member is the opportunity to meet and work with such a wide variety of interesting people who want the make a contribution to our community.

Frequently Asked Questions

Appraisal Review Board (ARB)

1. What is the Appraisal Review Board (ARB)?
The ARB members are citizens appointed by the Local Administrative Judge for the purpose of resolving property disputes between owners and the Appraisal District. The ARB is a separate and independent body from the Appraisal District. Members are trained in the Texas Property Tax Code (TPTC) and conduct Formal Hearings of property protests in three member panels.

2. What are the duties of the ARB?
Specific duties of the ARB are defined under the TPTC and include:

  1. Settling  protests initiated by property owners;
  2. Determining challenges of appraisal values initiated by taxing units;
  3. Approving the Annual Appraisal Roll after hearing substantially all  protests filed for the current tax year;
  4. Acting on motions and determining property owner “late” protest to correct prior year Appraisal Rolls’
  5. Correcting clerical errors in the Appraisal Roll.

Protesting Your Value

1. How do I protest?
Protests can be filed in written format on the Appraisal District form found on the back of the Notice of Value or on the Travis Central Appraisal District website. However, no form is required only the submission of the owner’s name, identification of the property being protested and the reason for filing the protest.

  1. The owner or authorized person(s) must submit the protest.
  2. The property may be identified by address or account number.
  3. More common reasons for protest include, but are not limited to, market value and not equal and uniform with others and the reason for protest must be stated.

The ability to file an on-line or E-file protest is being expanded and improved each year.  Those property owners issued a PIN number on their Notice of Value will be able to submit an on-line protest if desired.

2. What is the deadline to file a protest?
Protests must be filed by May 31st, or no later than 30 days after the Appraisal District delivers a Notice of Appraised Value to you.  The latter of the two before mentioned dates will be the deadline for any given tax year.

Should the protest deadline fall on a weekend or holiday, the protest deadline is the first business day after that date.

The protest filing deadline for current tax year of 2016 is May 31, 2016.

3. Where do I file my protest?
If you mail your protest, please mail it to the address listed on your Notice of Appraised Value or mail it to P.O. Box 149012 Austin, TX 78714-9012. Your protest must be postmarked on or before the filing deadline.

If you personally deliver your protest filing to the Appraisal District office, it must be in the office before close of business on the deadline date. Office doors are locked at 4:45p.m.

4. What happens once my protest is filed?
A Formal Hearing will be schedule before the ARB. You will be sent a notice at least a 15 days prior with the date, time and location of your hearing. Included along with your notice will be a copy of the State Comptroller’s publication, Property Taxpayer’s Remedies, the ARB Hearing Procedures and a statement that you have the right to inspect the information that the Appraisal District plans to introduce as evidence in establishing your property value. This information must be requested and there may be a small charge for reproducing the information.

5. If I forgot to file a protest, can I still have my value lowered?
Forgetting to file a protest or not knowing the protest deadline is not considered a “good cause” reason to grant you a “late” protest hearing. If you believe there are “good cause” reasons as to why you could not file a timely protest, then you should write the ARB and state those facts. The ARB Chair will make a determination regarding your request and respond in writing.

Informal Review with Appraisal District Staff

1. Do I have to go to an ARB Hearing to settle my issue(s)?
No, taxpayers are encouraged to attempt to resolve their issues with an appraiser prior to the scheduled Formal ARB Hearing. You should be prepared to present to the appraiser documented evidence to support your point of view regarding the value of your property. You will likely be scheduled for an Informal Review and may talk to an appraiser on your scheduled informal date. If an Appraiser is unable to resolve your issue(s), then the next step would be to attend the scheduled Formal ARB Hearing. If you and the appraiser are able to resolve your issue(s), there will be no need to attend the Formal ARB Hearing.

 

Formal Hearing Before the ARB

1. What is a formal hearing before the ARB?
A Formal Hearing is conducted very much like a court hearing although less formal. The ARB sets its own procedures under the guidelines of the State Comptroller’s Office. ARB hearing panels are generally comprised of three members. Typically, after the formal introduction of all parties and the property involved, the ARB will hear evidence presented by the property owner and the Appraisal District appraiser. Following the presentation of evidence, the panel will make a decision relating to your protest.

The hearing will last fifteen to twenty minutes or less and the ARB decision regarding your protest will be announced.  Following the full ARB’s approval of the panel’s decision, a written Notice of Final Order is sent to the property owner via certified mail. This decision may be changed only through appeal in binding arbitration or District Court.

2. Do I need to appear in person?
No.

Authorization for Someone to Appear on Your Behalf

You must provide written authorization, signed by you, the property owner, naming the person to represent you. This authorization should include identification of the property. The person you select should be able to discuss the property from personal knowledge. This form should be filed in advance of the hearing, but may be brought to the hearing for cases of unforeseen need.

If the representative is someone other than a family member or friend, e.g. real estate agent or tax agent, you must make that assignment for authorized representation by submitting the Appointment of Agent form to the Appraisal District. This form is available from the District office or via their website. To authorize someone who is paid to represent you, the Appointment of Agent form must be completed.

Filing an Affidavit in Lieu of Appearing

The affidavit, Letter of Consideration (LOC), is a written statement with supporting evidence which must be received by the ARB before the scheduled hearing date. The affidavit must state that you swear or affirm that the information it contains is true and must be notarized. The property owner’s name, address, account number, property description and the date and time of the hearing must be included in the affidavit.

Delivering the affidavit to the Appraisal District office to be time stamped is best or mailing the documents Return Receipt Requested is another option. Remember it must be received prior to the hearing date and time.

3. What form of documentation will the ARB accept for the hearing?
By law, a copy of all evidence presented during a hearing must be retained for public record. Therefore, the ARB will not accept evidence presented on DVD, CD-ROM, memory cards, PCs, PDAs, video recorders, projectors, digital cameras or cell phones.

Bring five sets of evidence, one for the appraiser, three for the panel members and one for yourself. Black out any personal or confidential information that may lead to identity theft.

4. Can I reschedule my ARB hearing?
An ARB hearing, not being represented by a tax consultant, may be rescheduled without cause one time. The ARB may reschedule your hearing again for “good cause” depending upon the time period requested and reason. Reasons of “good cause” are not defined in the TPTC and may include:

  • Active Military Duty
  • Hospitalization or Under Dr.’s Care
  • Death of a Family Member
  • Judicial or Legislative Service
  • Failure to Receive Administrative Due Process

Family vacations, business conflicts, needing more time to prepare for your hearing are not “good cause” reasons to reschedule. Alternatives to rescheduling a hearing would include attempting to resolve your issue(s) with an appraiser through an informal review, authorizing someone to appear in your place or submitting an affidavit, LOC, with evidence to be used in determining your protest at the hearing.

When approved for a second reschedule by the ARB Chair, you will be asked to submit an affidavit (LOC) before being rescheduled. Should you be unable to attend your rescheduled hearing your protest will be heard and determined based upon the evidence submitted. The affidavit will only be used should the property owner not be present at the rescheduled hearing.

5. How do I prepare for a Protest hearing?
You will receive a copy of the Texas Comptroller’s Property Taxpayer Remedies pamphlet with your notice of protest hearing letter. This pamphlet offers advice on how to prepare for a Formal ARB Hearing. In addition you will receive a copy of the ARB Formal Hearing Procedures which will explain the procedures to be used in a hearing.

If you have recently purchased your home and the appraised value set by the Appraisal District is greater than the purchase price, submit copies of the signed Settlement Statement as your evidence of value.

If your protest is based upon the condition of your home and you believe it affects the value make sure to have photos, any engineering reports or written estimates to repair the deficiencies. These estimates should be dated near the valuation date of January 1st.

The Appraisal District website has resources that will help you prepare for your hearing. In addition you may visit the Appraisal District office to inspect and obtain copies of the data, schedules, formulas and any other information the Chief Appraiser plans to introduce at your hearing or other information as it relates to your property. If you request copies of the information the cost may not exceed $15 per residential property or $25 per commercial property.

  • Be on time and prepared for your hearing.
  • Stick to the facts in your presentation of evidence.
  • Provide facts, not emotional arguments.
  • Keep it simple and well organized.
  • Stress the key facts and figures.
  • Be prepared to state the value you are seeking.

6. Question:  I want to bring in sales as part of my evidence, which sales and what timeframe should I research?
TCAD is looking for the best evidence of value so sales closer to the appraisal date (within 6 months) are best.  Sales should be similar to your home with respect to location, age, condition, quality, and size.  Sales should be adjusted (like a fee appraiser adjusts) based on the application of generally accepted appraisal methods and techniques.  The TCAD appraiser or the ARB will consider your sales evidence and appraiser may even adjust one or more sales via a TCAD sales adjustment formula. TCAD reserves the right to decline the use of sales which are not comparable to your property.  Please have the TCAD PID number attached to each sale you wish the appraiser to consider.

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