Posts Tagged: property tax protest

What do I Need to do to Get a Property Tax Reduction?

Reductions Require Evidence

If you appealed your multifamily property’s value, you most likely feel that your local Central Appraisal District (CAD) overvalued your property. As a result, you probably want to reduce that value and ultimately save yourself from paying unfair property taxes. Well, to do this you need to have strong evidence of your property’s overvaluation and explain this evidence effectively to either the appraisal office or an Appraisal Review Board (ARB). A common mistake made by individuals handling their own appeals is that they believe values increasing from one year to the next is by itself evidence that their appeal should succeed. That is not the case. You need to have strong evidence of what you believe the value should be to get that desired reduction.

Getting an Informal Reduction 

In Texas, most CAD’s will communicate with taxpayers in an effort to settle the appeal and avoid an ARB hearing. To take advantage of this, you need to do research in your market. Are there sales comps? Did you recently build the property for less? Is the property charging less in market rent than it did in previous years? You really need to examine the functionality and external impacts on the property to determine if a reduction is warranted. Once you have strong evidence, reach out to the CAD. Most offices are happy to take a look at your evidence and at least communicate with you about why they set the value where they did. Remember, you have a right to the evidence the CAD used in setting your value, and you should request it when you reach out to attempt settlement of your appeal. Review it critically and fairly.

Getting a Reduction at the ARB 

If you were unable to secure a reduction at the informal level with the CAD, it is time to prepare your case for an ARB hearing. These hearings are generally fair and most evidence is considered. To secure a reduction at these hearings, you need to put your evidence into one packet and make multiple copies to hand out at the hearing (check your local ARB hearing procedures packet for the exact number of copies needed). Next, you need to be sure that your evidence is accurate and can stand up to scrutiny. The CAD will most likely attack your evidence as unreliable and claim your requested value is too low. You then need to be able to attack the CAD’s evidence fairly, and cast doubt on their method of valuing your property. If you are more convincing, the ARB may choose a lower value than the CAD’s proposed one, or they may simply take your exact requested number if your case was strong enough. 

There are two main ways to get a reduction to your property value: 1) informally settle with the property’s CAD, or 2) win your hearing before an ARB. Both of these stages are extremely important when pursuing a reduction, so please reach out to our multifamily property specialists for guidance, consultations, or excellent representation.

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What is the CMI Certification?

Understanding the CMI-Property Tax Designation 

Institute for Professionals in Taxation 

The Institute for Professionals in Taxation (IPT) has been around since 1976 and is a not-for-profit education association serving more than 6,000 members. As noted by the Institute itself, it is the only professional organization that educates, certifies and establishes strict codes of conduct for property tax professionals who represent taxpayers.

The IPT organization continually educates on property tax matters through various programs and classes. The CMI designation means Certified Member of the Institute, and it has been attainable since 1979. This certification is difficult to obtain and is more than a mere credential; it is a demonstration of expertise in business property taxation.  

[H3] What the CMI Designation is NOT 

To be very clear about what the CMI-Property Tax designation is NOT, it is not an endorsement from the Institute for Professionals in Taxation for any individual or firm.  Just like a CPA designation, holding this certification does not mean that the individual or firm is endorsed by the state agency that issued the designation. It means the individual has been recognized for dedicating numerous hours of study to the field of property taxation. 

Requirements for CMI Designation Qualification 

In order to qualify for the CMI, an individual must:

  • Maintain membership in the IPT
  • Document many years of property tax experience
  • Complete several educational schools provided by IPT
  • Successfully complete both the comprehensive and oral examinations given by the IPT

After attaining the CMI professional designation, certified members must maintain continuing education hours with the IPT. This is comparable to other professional designations such as CPA, JD, etc.  

 Why it Matters 

Not all who attempt to attain CMI certification are successful. In fact, only about 1,000 property tax professionals nationwide have ever earned this coveted certification.

The process is arduous and long. The tests are difficult and taxing, and it takes a dedicated individual to complete the requirements. As of the time of this writing, there are only about 480 active CMI-Property Tax holders in the United States and Canada.   

Individuals with the CMI-Property Tax designation show a commitment to the property tax industry. It is not an endorsement from IPT, but it does indicate experience and knowledge on behalf of the individual.   

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National Representation vs. Local Experience

Why we are passionate about knowing your properties

Appeals in a Big Firm

Everyone has reasons for doing what they do, and I am no exception. I used to be a partner at a national firm with properties all over the country. I took pride in my work and in our team, and I loved helping clients reduce their property tax burdens. After many years and thousands of hearings, I was given the assignment to handle our firm’s protests in Louisville, Kentucky. I eagerly prepared to go and attend the hearings, but as busy as we were, I was only able to review the properties from CoStar and the internet. I found comparable property sales and put together my evidence, sure that my workup was bulletproof.

Shocking Reality Check

When I arrived at the hearing, I began to present my case with full confidence in my work product. The board respectfully listened, and then when I finished they began to ask me some tough questions. They asked me about the neighborhoods and areas of town, and which adjustments were made and why. They asked about the condition of the subject and the comparables. I did not know the answers. Finally, I was asked a life-changing question: had I ever seen or visited any of the properties in person?

Under oath, I had to admit that I had not seen them. Their response shook me: “No one who knows anything about this part of town and these properties would ever consider them comparable.” That was it–the nail in the coffin. I did not secure a single reduction for my client that day, but I did walk out of that hearing with a firm conviction that I would NEVER be in that situation again. I vowed that I would represent my clients as if I owned the properties myself. I would visit every property and I would do my best to visit every equity or sale comparable we would use. At the end of the day, no one in the hearing room would know more about the subject property and the comparables than I would. 

Starting Over

Upon seeing that I could not make that change in my national firm, I set out to create my own firm. I noticed that at national firms, agents are often overburdened and don’t have time to visit every property. The reason I founded Wayfinder is to be different from the busy national firms and to provide personalized expertise and representation. We are founded on the principles of integrity, accountability, and excellence. I have never forgotten the shame I felt in Louisville, Kentucky, and I never want to feel it again. When a client entrusts you with their appeal, agents should never take that responsibility lightly. They should do more than you can on your own because they are fully dedicated to representing properties in the appeal process. 

Giving the Best to Our Clients

This monumental change in my perspective has caused us to spend countless hours visiting properties all over the markets where we represent our clients. The results have been profound. We have spent time learning the markets, asking questions, and becoming experts in the properties, knowing we are doing everything in our power to truly represent our clients.

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Why do I Need a Property Tax Agent?

You Need Someone in Your Corner Who Will Fight For You.

A Tax Agent is… 

  1. Licensed by the State

A Texas property tax agent is an individual licensed in Texas to represent taxpayers in the valuation appeal process. There are education requirements and certification exams proving a base level of competency in Texas property tax law before someone can become licensed.  Once licensed, continuing education requirements ensure agents are staying up-to-date on Texas law and ethics. When evaluating an agent, first check to see that they are licensed and legally allowed to represent you.

  1. Your Advocate 

Tax agents are meant to be your advocate and represent your best interests.  They are an extension of you throughout the appeal process. Their goal is to reduce your property tax burden while preserving your relationship with the county. Your agent should communicate with you proactively and keep you in the loop. Unless you specifically state it, they should not be accepting valuations or settlements without your knowledge. 

  1. A Representative Who Works For You

Your tax agent should be working for you, not working around you.  They should not file appeals on your behalf without your permission. Occasionally, you may find an agent who is overly aggressive and ignores your instructions. They may even threaten to drop your appeal if you don’t do what they say. These agents are acting beyond their authority, and you should review your rights to hire a more respectful agent. If you encounter a rude agent, you should run in the other direction!  Agents like this run the risk of causing a rift between you and the county–and that could damage your future appeals. There are too many good agents out there; you don’t need to settle for poor representation.

An Extension of you

Ultimately, a tax agent should be an extension of you, decreasing your stress and fighting for reductions. They should handle the entire appeal process and keep you in the loop, while minimizing the burden on you. Hiring the right property tax agent will bring results to you and your property that can make a meaningful impact to your bottom line.

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What Does A Great Property Tax Agent Do?

When it comes to service, the difference between good and great is noticeable. Good service fits a need while great service exceeds expectations. Most of us have experienced both good and great service, and I am willing to bet that great service providers stand out to us, while good providers fall by the wayside. This is mainly because great service is much rarer, and we feel its impacts immediately.

A Great Agent is Hard to Come By

There are a lot of good property tax agents in Texas, but not many great ones. This is because the level of service a great agent can provide is often much higher than most groups are able or willing to offer. Great agents visit all the properties they represent so that they can intimately understand their clients’ assets. They also act as an extension of their clients and treat every appeal as if it were their own property being valued. They are considerate of their clients’ needs, expectations, and goals throughout the entire tax year, not just during appeal season.

A great agent also knows when to be aggressive with an appeal and push for a large reduction and when to work with an appraiser to come to a settlement. You can usually identify a great agent by their consistent large reductions and favorable reputation with the appraisal districts they work in. As a result, their clients benefit from lower taxes and elevated reputations in the communities they serve. 

The Wayfinder Way

All multifamily property owners deserve great property tax services. To be sure you are receiving great service, download the Property Tax Agent Checklist and evaluate your current provider. If you find that there is some room for improvement, it may be time for a change so you can get the service you deserve. 

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What is an Informal Meeting with the Central Appraisal District?

Informal Appraisal Meeting v. Appraisal Review Board Hearing 

When a taxpayer files an appeal of their property value, they are given a date that their protest will be heard by the Appraisal Review Board (ARB). This appeal will determine the final value of the property through the administrative process. However, before this hearing, a taxpayer may seek out an “informal” meeting with the county appraiser’s office in an attempt to settle the appeal. This allows both the appraisal office and the taxpayer to set the value for the property without the intervention of an ARB.

What to Do:

BEFORE THE MEETING

The first thing a taxpayer needs to do before their informal meeting with the appraisal district is examine their evidence. This should include the county’s evidence as well. After examining all the evidence, taxpayers must establish a justifiable value for their property and craft the narrative of their appeal (“My property’s value should be reduced because . . .”). Once they’ve done their homework, it is time to meet with the appraiser.

DURING THE MEETING

When having the informal meeting with the appraisal office, be sure to listen to what bit of evidence drove the county’s valuation. Where are they putting the most weight on in their argument? Was it a comparable sale in the market? Or maybe a new cap rate study? Be sure to listen to their argument; even if you cannot resolve the protest in the informal meeting, it will help you later in an ARB hearing. After meeting with the appraiser, try to rework your evidence using some of the data/numbers the county is using to bridge the gap between your valuations. It is ok to make concessions. If the number is higher than you find to be reasonable, then take your shot in front of the ARB. Otherwise, offer this new number to the appraisal district and see if that is agreeable to them.

The Wayfinder Way

These meetings can be extremely useful to taxpayers because they now know what the driving factor was in their property’s valuation. The meeting allows them to bypass a potentially risky ARB hearing to acquire a reduction in value. 

For help setting up or handling an informal meeting with an appraiser concerning your property valuation protests, ask how we can help.

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Why Are My Property Taxes So High?

You Need a Texas Multifamily Property Tax Specialist.

Why Your Taxes Keep Getting Higher 

Property taxes are determined based on the value of your property and the tax rates set by local jurisdictions. Since Texas does not allow income tax, the property taxes are higher than in other states. With multiple inputs, there may be many reasons why your tax bill is high. We will address a few of them in this article.

How Property is Valued 

Each year the Central Appraisal Districts (CAD) review and assess the value of your property.  As you might expect, most often the value increases. If you have not been contesting your value, this would definitely impact why your taxes seem high compared to others. Even though the CAD attempts to value every property fairly and equitably with others, it is a very difficult job.  They value thousands to hundreds of thousands of properties and cannot know your property personally. They use information they have gathered about the market to value properties en masse.  Hiring a tax agent to properly review your valuation each year and contest the value when appropriate can help keep the market value reduced, and thereby reduce your property taxes.

Why Tax Rates Matter

Another component of the tax bill is your tax rate. Even if your valuation stayed the same from last year, the tax rates may have increased. This would increase your tax bill. In the fall, the local districts have meetings to discuss their budget needs and proposed tax rates. This is really the only time you can voice your opinion about the tax rate. If you are not attending these meetings and letting your district know you want to keep the rate low, they will likely move forward with their proposal. 

Evaluating Your Agent 

If you have an agent who has been appealing your valuation and you still feel like your valuations are too high, then download the Property Tax Agent Checklist and rate your agent.  You may find out that it isn’t you, but it is your agent that is not giving you the representation you deserve.  Evaluate their fee, if it is a bargain price, you are likely getting bargain service.  Consider finding a Texas multifamily property tax specialist to take your results to the next level. 

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When Should You Hire A Property Tax Professional?

Anytime Of Year Is A Good Time To Get With A Property Tax Agent

Many Texas multifamily property owners already have representation concerning their noticed value protests. But not all. Whether you do it yourself–or even if you’ve never filed an appeal–you should engage with a property tax agent today to get specialized help with lowering your taxes.

2 Reasons You Need Specialized Help with Your Property Taxes

1. They can save you more than you can save yourself

If you do not have a property tax agent currently reviewing your properties’ values for potential protests, you should do so immediately. Agents specialize in property valuations–and in reducing them–to save you more on taxes. Doing these in-house may seem to save you money because you do not need to pay an agent’s fee, but you are most likely missing out on large tax savings every year that more than pays for the agent. In fact, most agents only charge a fee if they are successful in saving you money. Doing this work in-house creates more stress for you and your team members, requires the use of more resources, and often will result in suboptimal results. Getting expert representation is always advisable.

2. They can help you all year long

Now that you can see the value of a good agent, when should you reach out and engage with a firm for representation? The answer is: immediately. There is no bad time to start working with a good agent. If values have just come out, it means they can start preparing your case for appeal to an ARB and even court, if needed. If it has been months since your last appeal, an agent can review your portfolio for further reductions outside the normal appeal timeframe, or start prepping appeals for next year by doing site visits and learning your assets. Agents can, and should, even be providing you with tax estimates for budgeting purposes. There is no bad time to get with a great firm. A good agent can provide value no matter the season. 

If you do not yet have any representation for your Texas multifamily property, please visit Wayfindertaxrelief.com today and see what a specialist can do for you and your portfolio.

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What is a Property Tax Agent?

You Need Someone in Your Corner Who Will Fight For You.

A Tax Agent is… 

  1. Licensed by the State

A Texas property tax agent is an individual licensed in Texas to represent taxpayers in the valuation appeal process. There are education requirements and certification exams proving a base level of competency in Texas property tax law before someone can become licensed.  Once licensed, continuing education requirements ensure agents are staying up-to-date on Texas law and ethics. When evaluating an agent, first check to see that they are licensed and legally allowed to represent you.

  1. Your Advocate 

Tax agents are meant to be your advocate and represent your best interests.  They are an extension of you throughout the appeal process. Their goal is to reduce your property tax burden while preserving your relationship with the county. Your agent should communicate with you proactively and keep you in the loop. Unless you specifically state it, they should not be accepting valuations or settlements without your knowledge. 

  1. A Representative Who Works For You

Your tax agent should be working for you, not working around you.  They should not file appeals on your behalf without your permission. Occasionally, you may find an agent who is overly aggressive and ignores your instructions. They may even threaten to drop your appeal if you don’t do what they say. These agents are acting beyond their authority, and you should review your rights to hire a more respectful agent. If you encounter a rude agent, you should run in the other direction!  Agents like this run the risk of causing a rift between you and the county–and that could damage your future appeals. There are too many good agents out there; you don’t need to settle for poor representation.

An Extension of you

Ultimately, a tax agent should be an extension of you, decreasing your stress and fighting for reductions. They should handle the entire appeal process and keep you in the loop, while minimizing the burden on you. Hiring the right property tax agent will bring results to you and your property that can make a meaningful impact to your bottom line.

See How Wayfinder Can Help

Schedule a Call

How do I Calculate My Texas Property Taxes?

Calculating Your Property Taxes in 3 Simple Steps

Step 1: Find your property value. This can be found on your Notice of Value or on the central appraisal district website where your property is located. If you don’t know your property account/parcel number, you can often find it by searching by address or owner name.  

Step 2: Determine the tax rates that apply to your property. In many instances, the tax rates can be found where you find your property value. Be sure to locate all applicable tax rates, which may include the Independent School District (ISD), county, city, hospital, community colleges, etc. A good check is to review the previous year’s bill to ensure you have located all the taxing jurisdictions.    

Step 3: Multiply the property value by the total tax rate. Texas property taxes are calculated on 100% of the market value of the property.  If the total value is $10,000,000 and the total tax rate is 2.5%, then the tax bill would be $10,000,000 x .025 = $250,000.

That wasn’t so hard, was it? The tax system can seem intimidating at first, but a few good tips from an expert will give you a good handle on the terminology and formulas used in your valuation, driving you to ask the right questions and know when you can go it alone and when it’s time to reach out for assistance.

Why Does it Matter?

When you know how to calculate your own estimates, you no longer need to take your tax agent or the taxing jurisdictions at their word. You can verify that your tax bill is correct, and you can calculate the tax savings you are receiving. You will have more peace of mind knowing you are not dependent on someone else’s work.    

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