Updated 9/24/2015 DK
The main objective of this article is to get you familiar with Brazoria County Appraisal District’s property appraisal, tax assessment and hearing process for ARB. Please subscribe to the blog for updates and new posts.
Brazoria County Appraisal District
In short BCAD, is a subdivision of the state of Texas, and there is one appraisal district for every county. Brazoria’s appraisal district has an office in Angleton Texas.This district is responsible for appraising property in the district for tax purposes. Every year, you as a home owner, get a fair chance at fighting an appraised value that is if you believe it is unfair. This article is specifically written for protesting your property taxes in Brazoria county but can be easily applied to other counties in the states.
Physical and Mailing Address:
500 N Chenango St
Angleton TX 77515-4650
- I am protesting my property taxes with the BCAD – FALSE
You are fighting your property value which is appraised for tax assessment.
- If BCAD appraises my home value I should be very happy as I will gain more equity when I decide to sell – FALSE
The appraised value is strictly used for tax purposes. The market value of your house is dictated by the condition of your house, market situation, housing market, supply and demand and other factors.
- BCAD does not like the home owner protesting for the value – FALSE
BCAD expects the homeowner to take active part in assessing the value. They are always under staffed and use tools and GIS ( geographic information system ) to determine the value of your home which may not be accurate.
First and Foremost, make sure you make a copy of this letter for your records. Read it carefully, all of the terms are self-explanatory. This letter is a comparison table between previous years values and the proposed values for the current year.
Paper Protest Vs E-file online protest.
The difference is only convenience. E-File is very convenient if you like to use your computer to register a formal protest. Use the enclosed paper form to protest through mail. Section 3 in this form is your basis of the protest. This is the main reason for your protest and section 4 is to enter the facts which support your statement in section 3. If you are protesting online, I recommend filling this paper and filing it for your records (do not mail to BCAD). This exercise will help you in the online protest. Lets look at the section and get some ideas:
E-file instructions are available on the BCAD site at http://www.brazoriacad.org/e-file.html. However, you will need the following to be able to protest online:
– a valid email address
The Owner ID and PIN number is printed on the letter that you receive from BCAD. Remember, you will have to first register with your email address and the owner ID and PIN number. After successful registration you should be able to login and start filing your protest.
- Go to http://efile.brazoriacad.org/
- Log in using your newly registered username and password
Once you are logged in, you will see the online summary of your protest. Basically it should show you information about your property and provides you an electronic form to protest online.
Steps to protest online:
- Click the “E-File” button next to the property you wish to protest and follow the steps to submit your protest.
- After clicking “Create”, your protest will be sent to BCAD for processing.
- You will receive an email that your protest has been submitted.
- Once BCAD has reviewed your protest you will receive emails from BCAD when evidence (found under the Evidence and Letters tab) is ready for review and if/or when a settlement offer has been made.
- If a settlement offer has been made, you can then return to the website to review it and either accept or reject the offer made.
Accepting / Rejecting Offers
If you accept the settlement offer:
- Your value will be changed to the offer made for the property; and
- You will receive an email confirmation that you have accepted the offer; and
- Your protest will be closed as an “Agreed Settlement”.
If you reject the settlement offer:
- You must attend your scheduled Informal Protest Meeting at the date and time provided in the Notice of Protest Meeting letter that you receive via USPS mail.
- See the section Formal Meeting below for details about the process.
If no settlement offer is made:
- The Notice of Protest Meeting letter that you receive via USPS mail will provide an informal meeting date and time.
Download any documents that they have available for you as these will be replaced with newer documents whenever a new tax year starts. Alternatively you can call and request the BCAD to email you the documents that they had published online which now have been removed.
If you rejected your the offer provided by BCAD on your online protest (or the paper protest), then you will receive a letter by the BCAD with your rights and an appointment to meet with the ARB. See sample below:
What is an ARB (Appraisal Review Board) ?
BCAD’s definition of ARB on their site is worth quoting here:
- The Appraisal Review Board (ARB) is a group of impartial citizens that serve as the judicial part of the protest system.
- They are separate and independent from the Brazoria County Appraisal District and serve a different function.
- The ARB hears and resolves disputes over appraisal matters based on evidence provided by both the taxpayer and the appraisal district.
- The ARB must be sensitive to its legal and practical limits while also being sure to adhere to the Texas State Property Tax Codes.
- The ARB has authority over matters submitted to it and has no role in the day to day operations of the Brazoria County Appraisal District or in appraising any property in Brazoria County.
- Except where it is deciding a taxpayer protest, the ARB has no authority to change a value or change the appraisal records directly.
ARB Hearing Process:
The main objective of this article is to bring familiarity and describe the overall protest specifically the ARB formal hearing. If you are new to the state or state processes, this piece of information should ease your nerves and come out as a winner at the ARB hearing process at BCAD.
Hearing Process Some tips:
- The drive to BCAD is less than an hour, so plan ahead and watch the traffic. Arrive at least 10 minutes prior to your meeting time.
- Dress in casuals, whatever makes you feel confident and comfortable.
- Make sure you carry at least 7 copies of the document (for the 7 members of the board, see illustration for the board room depiction)
- Rehearse a few times on how you are going to introduce yourself and present your case, you will get anywhere between 3-6 minutes to talk in the beginning.
After getting to BCAD Office in Angleton,
Illustration: Waiting Room, BCAD Office (C) (R) xdbworks 2015
Go to the 3rd floor and check in with the front office. She / he will take your information and provide you with a copy of your documents that will be used at the hearing ( the same documents that you had filed online and received from BCAD as evidence and comps of houses etc)
Front office personnel will also ask you if you have any new evidence or document to include in the hearing. This is the time to make sure you provide it to her and ask her for extra copies ( remember, you need at least 7 copies).
There may be 10-14 minutes of wait even after its time for your meeting, so have patience and keep calm.
The ARB Board Room Scene
Illustration: Board Room, BCAD Office (C) (R) xdbworks 2015
Its time and your name is called. As you enter you will see a court room scene (see above for illustration). It is definitely a formal setting however the people in the board are home owners just like you. The members of the BCAD are also present (sitting on the right) and you are seated on the left.
One of the members in the ARB is the spokesperson and will ask you if this your first time, regardless, he/she will then proceed to explain the process:
The ARB Hearing Process:
You will be given few minutes ( 5 – 10 min) to state your name, identify your property and state the value of your property that you feel the BCAD should consider.
This is the time to request the board room assistant to pass your copies to everyone.
Then the session is proceed with the ARB asking the BCAD members about why they feel your property should be valued as per their final online offer.
Depending on what they (BCAD) provides to the board, you will be given a chance to speak as to why your property has lost value (repairs, age, lower market value etc). After which the ARB will discuss among themselves and will provide you with a final decision.
This marks the end of the hearing, you then leave with the final decision. In most cases you either come out to be a winner or the value is lower than their previous offer. Typically it is 5-7 % increase from previous year. Remember there is a 10% cap on increase.
You will also have a chance to appeal this final order to the court and file for binding arbitration with the Appraisal District. See more information about this here (http://comptroller.texas.gov/taxinfo/proptax/arbitration/)
Some useful Links:
FAQs on the BCAD site:
Property Tax Administration