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File Your Protest By May 31

Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD) appraises all of the property in our county every year for property tax purposes.

HCAD’s primary job is to ensure that your appraisal correctly reflects the full value of the property you own.  Our second job, just as important, is to make sure you have easy access to exemptions and other remedies that can reduce the tax burden.

As I’ve talked about before, the first way to reduce your tax bill is to make sure you have a homestead exemption.  The second remedy I want to talk about is protesting your value.

HCAD sends you a property value notice that shows your market value and appraised value. Market value is the amount that the property would have sold for on the open market at the first of the year.  Your appraised value is affected by your homestead exemption.

If you don’t think the market value is correct, you can file a protest.  Remember – it’s the market value you are protesting, but it’s the appraised value that is used to calculate your taxes.

In the protest process, HCAD reviews your value with you.  You can also have an independent panel of citizen judges called the appraisal review board review and determine the property’s value.  It is an easy process that you can handle yourself.

A green protest form is included with the property value notice.  If you need another form, you can find it on the district’s web site at under Forms.  It is the second form listed under “Popular Forms” and it is called “Notice of Protest.”

Once you have filled out the form, you can mail it to P.O. Box 922004, Houston, TX 77292-2004 or bring it to HCAD’s office at 13013 Northwest Freeway. The protest deadline is May 31, so if you put your form in the mail, it must be postmarked by May 31.   If you wait until the last day to mail your form, remember to take it to the counter and have the Post Office handstamp it May 31.

The other way to submit your protest is to file it online using HCAD’s iFile system.  To do this, you will have to create an HCAD Owner’s account and have your property value notice handy.  On the top of your property value notice – near your property account number – is your iFile number.  This is a number that is set up for your security.  Without this number, you cannot use the iFile system.

If you have lost your notice, you can request your iFile number through the HCAD app on your smartphone as long as your driver’s license matches the property address.  You also can call or email the district, but a response will take longer because we are getting a lot of questions this time of year.

If you file your protest through iFile, you also have the opportunity to settle your value online through HCAD’s iSettle system.  If you do not accept the settlement offer, you still have the option of attending a hearing.

I will provide more information about the protest process in future columns.  For now, it is important that you file your protest by May 31 if you think your market value is not correct.

If you have specific questions, you can email or call the information center at 713.957.7800.

Roland Altinger is the Chief Appraiser of the Harris County Appraisal District