The Role of an Appraisal Review Board in the Protest Process

September 22, 2020

There are several steps between receiving a property tax valuation notice that indicates your commercial property taxes have increased and reducing your tax bill – among them is presenting your property tax protest evidence to your county’s Appraisal Review Board (ARB). This formal hearing is a key aspect of the process of lowering your excessive commercial property taxes.

Before an ARB formal hearing becomes necessary, a property tax protest is subject to an informal hearing. The informal hearing takes place with a county appraisal district staff appraiser. In this hearing, it’s determined whether your local tax appraiser can adjust your property taxes and settle the protest. Essentially, this process comes down to making a deal to avoid the protest case moving to a formal hearing, where there’s a risk that the ARB will determine that your property taxes won’t be lowered. An ARB hearing is scheduled if both parties do not come to an agreement at the informal hearing.

In Texas, specifically Harris County, if your commercial value is noticed at $1,000,000 and above, you have the option to “top line” your property tax protest. This allows for the acceptance of a property tax valuation during the informal hearing without waiving the opportunity for further judicial appeal – meaning the informal agreement is not a binding value.

If your protest is not settled informally, the ARB steps in to act as an impartial third party in resolving your dispute with the appraisal district. The ARB is comprised of citizens whose job is to resolve disputes between taxpayers and the county appraisal district, acting as a mediator between the two parties. In Texas, counties with a population of 120,000 or more appoint their ARB members through an administrative district judge in the county in which the appraisal district is located. In all other counties, the appraisal district appoints the ARB. There are separate review boards for residential and commercial property tax protests.

The ARB hearings consist of the appraisal review board usually comprised of three members, a staff appraiser and the owner of the commercial property (or a tax advocate team like Lane Property Tax Advocates) and usually begin in early May. Evidence is presented by both the owner (or their tax protest team) and the county appraisal district. The ARB board members announce their decision after each case is presented. If this sounds like a standard court proceeding, that’s exactly how it works – with the ARB acting as the jury handing down a verdict on whether your commercial property taxes will be lowered for that tax year.

However, an ARB’s decision is not always the conclusion to the story of your commercial property tax protest. If you have a discrepancy with the verdict, you can choose to appeal the decision by filing a judicial appeal against the county appraisal district within 60 days of receiving the determination from the ARB. Your case will then move into the litigation or arbitration stage.

Lane Property Tax Advocates works with you to file your protest, gather evidence and present it on your behalf at the ARB hearing and continue the process through litigation and arbitration, if necessary. We take care of all the paperwork and headaches that come along with protesting commercial property taxes, so you don’t have to. If you’re ready to stop guessing your way through the protest process on your own, reach out to us today.

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