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CHIEF'S APPRAISAL: The old and the new of Appraisal Review Hearings - Odessa American: Business

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CHIEF'S APPRAISAL: The old and the new of Appraisal Review Hearings

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Posted: Sunday, June 3, 2018 5:30 am

You should have received your annual Notice of Appraised Value from the Ector County Appraisal District for each property you own in Ector County. Under Texas law, appraisal districts are required to notify property owners about changes in their property’s value. These appraisal notices contain important information regarding the property’s description, ownership, market value, applied exemptions, and taxable value. Our office has mailed approximately 100,000 real, mineral, and business personal property notices in the last few weeks. The taxable values (market value less any appraisal caps and exemption amounts) will be used by our local taxing entities to set the 2018 tax rates, finalizing tax amounts for properties within their jurisdiction.

But before your property value is certified to the taxing entities, it is your right as a property owner in Texas to participate in the valuation of your property for tax purposes. Our staff appraisers are currently conducting informal appraisal reviews with property owners. The informal process begins with a call or visit to our office. Most questions can be answered and issues resolved in this informal session. You and the appraiser will discuss the characteristics of your property and recent sales of properties comparable to yours. If our appraisal records need to be revised, the appraiser will make the necessary changes. If we believe our records are accurate and no adjustment is warranted, you will be given an opportunity to file a protest and present your arguments and evidence to the Appraisal Review Board (ARB).

Your ARB hearing works like a less formal court proceeding. The ARB chairperson will guide you through the hearing process by asking for testimony and written evidence from you and from the appraisal district staff. When all evidence and arguments have been presented, the ARB members may ask clarification questions. The chairman will then close the evidence portion of the hearing and the ARB members will weigh the evidence presented and make a ruling. You will have an opportunity at the conclusion of your hearing to rate your ARB experience by completing a survey offered by the Comptroller of Public Accounts.

For a successful hearing, you should provide written evidence that is specific to your property and relevant to the 2018 valuation. If you recently purchased your property for less than the appraisal district’s proposed market value, you should present your closing statement. If your property needs significant repairs, you should provide photos of problem areas along with repair estimates. Business personal property values are best supported with the asset details from your recent personal property rendition filing.

The Appraisal Review Board cannot ask for evidence to be provided and they can only consider matters presented as evidence at the hearing. The ARB must follow Texas Property Tax Law and the Texas Comptroller guidelines set out in the Model Hearings Procedures and Rules. The ARB cannot develop its own valuation or calculations, create appraisals, or develop theories that are not part of the hearing record. Property owners who have the most success in getting a value adjustment provide property-specific written evidence to support their claim.

While ARB members will be sympathetic to a property owner’s testimony regarding the tax estimate, the board has no authority concerning tax amounts. It’s best to keep your testimony focused on the specifics of your protest, such as the market value, equity, or the qualifications of an exemption that has been denied.

New for 2018, property owners may appear for their hearing by telephone conference call. You must file a written notice for this type of hearing at least 10 days before the hearing, and you must file a written affidavit with your evidence prior to the hearing. As is the case with any new law, there is initial uncertainty in adopting rules and policies that comply with the intent of the tax code and also fit with the equipment, meeting rooms, staff, and current ARB local procedures. Contact us and ask for the ARB administrator. We can provide you with additional information on procedures for telephone conference call hearings.

To prepare for your hearing, visit our website at www.ectorcad.org for information on your property and other properties in your neighborhood. You can also visit our office at 1301 E. Eighth Street, or you can call us at 432-332-6834. Please remember the law has established legal deadlines to protest, and the ARB loses jurisdiction to hear your complaint if the protest is not filed in a timely manner.

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