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May 6

Written by: egblogger
5/6/2016 8:49 AM  RssIcon

Some property owners have been confused by information printed on their Notices of Appraised Value.  Specifically, the deadline to file a protest has been listed before May 31, sometimes as early as as May 2.  We have heard of this happening in many counties across the state, and we have fielded a lot of calls over the past week from owners who were concerned that their filing deadline was imminent or had already passed.  

Practically speaking, the deadline to file a protest is the later of May 31 or 30 days after the notice was delivered.  Unfortunately, the Texas Tax Code is unclear because it lists differing deadlines depending on whether the property is a residence homestead or not (See Texas Tax Code Section 41.44 (a)(1) and (a)(2)).  It requires filing protests for residence homesteads before May 1 or within 30 days after delivery, and protests for all other types of property are due before June 1 or within 30 days after delivery.  Based on this language, some appraisal districts print the notices including April 30 or 30 days after the notice as the deadline, and the April 30 date was extended to May 2 this year because April 30 fell on a Saturday.  This decision certainly complies with 41.44(a)(1), but it is not the end of the story.

If you look a bit further into the code, despite the clear deadline of May 1, a later provision states that if you 1) miss that deadline, 2) file before appraisal roll certification, and 3) file before June 1, your protest can still be heard as if it was filed timely (See Texas Tax Code Section 41.44 (b-1)).  This means that regardless of property type, the de facto deadline for all protests is May 31 or 30 days after delivery of the notice, whichever is later.  

It is also important to note that Notices of Appraised Value are not delivered by certified mail, so there is no record of when it was actually delivered.  If you file the protest 31 days after the date on the notice, this is probably not a problem because you can argue that even if it was put in the mail on the date of the notice, and it was delivered the very next day, you would have filed 30 days after delivery.  Sometimes, however, the notice is mailed a few (or more) days after the date on the notice, and in that situation it would be essential to have the envelope with the postmark.  Or sometimes, for reasons beyond your or the district's control, your notice spends longer than expected in the mail.  You would then be in the tough position of having to convince the Appraisal Review Board that your notice was delivered late without any evidence other than your recollection.  And that is not always convincing.  

Summary:  Our rule of thumb is that any general value protest needs to be filed by May 31 or 30 days after the date on the notice, whichever is later.  And remember, if you are filing at or near the deadline, please file in a way that provides evidence of the filing such as certified mail, certificate of mailing, delivery service with tracking, or delivering in person to obtain a file-marked copy.  

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