Tax Information Session Provides Tips/Options on Protecting Property

cover2by Darwin Campbell, African-AmericanNews&Issues

HOUSTON-African-American homeowners in the Third Ward got a crash course in understanding property taxes and how to stay protected from the tax axe.

The 2014 protest deadline for most owners of real property in Harris County is June 2nd. The filing deadline for business personal property and real property accounts sent value notices after May 1 is 30 days from the date the notice was mailed.- was one of many topics discussed at the information session.

The seminar was held at Emancipation Park Community Center and  was supported by the center and the Third Ward Community Cloth Cooperative’s Housing & Environment Thread.

Representatives from the Harris County Appraisal District and Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office were present to answer questions about the process.

“This was an opportunity to help people understand this important subject,” said Theola Petteway, spokesperson for the event. “Representatives from both entities made presentations and provided hands-on assistance to attendees addressing their specific problems.”

The Third Ward Community Cloth Cooperative is an “organization of organizations” focusing on resources for children and families in the greater Third Ward area.

The overall mission of the Third Ward Community Cloth Cooperative (the Cloth) is to identify, mobilize, unify, stabilize, create and coordinate resources to nurture and enhance the bodies, minds and spirits of children, youth and families in the greater Third Ward area. Organizations join together “to weave a grassroots fabric to spread across the greater Third Ward community” to ensure adequate coverage for children and families.

Service like the property tax seminar provides much needed information for those who are having difficulty understanding tax laws.

Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw attended the information session for her parents and said the seminar was very beneficial in providing information about how to apply principles to individual tax situations.

“As adult child of  homeowner in Third Ward, there are a lot of things the elderly and adult children should know to be responsible and responsive about keeping property in the family,” she said. “More people need to know this information.”

TAX APPRAISAL

According to The Harris County Appraisal District, Harris County real estate market has shown rapid growth over the last year, as reported by many local and national news outlets. Properties in virtually every segment of the market have experienced increases in sale prices, median prices, dollar volume and sales volume.

The Harris County Appraisal District is a regional agency responsible for appraising all property within the boundaries of Harris County for property tax purposes. By law, the district must appraise property at the price for which it would sell on the open market as of January 1. The district has nearly completed its appraisals for the 2014 tax year.

The robust economy has residential and commercial properties increasing in value.

The current inventory of homes listed for sale is at a record low – a 2.6 month’s supply – which gives the seller an advantage. In many areas, primarily those west of I-45 and in northern suburbs, homes are selling almost as quickly as they are listed and many are selling at above the listing price.

Homes with price tags of at least $500,000 – which represents a 45 percent increase from this past year – are leading the sales, as are homes in areas that have highly-rated schools.

Sales of properties under $150,000 and especially under $80,000 are still slow, primarily because lenders are cautious about people in the lower price brackets, according to information from the district.

“I really got a good layout of the basics of how things work,” said Homeowner Ed Bank. “One of the most important aspects of this was learning about the 65 and older tax exemption and how to use it.”

Bank also said another thing of value coming out the the current changes involves the importance of parents and children communicating and developing a future plan for paying taxes on property.

“So many properties are being lost because parent pass on and the children let it go,” he said. “There needs to be increased communications now between parents and children in order to keep land and property in the family. This will put a lot of people’s minds at ease.”

According to assessors, families have 180 days to submit proper documentation to ensure property taxes are paid and a chain of accountability for property is set in order after the death of a loved one – not enough time in the eyes of homeowners.

Information was shared on tax deadlines and what to do to protest an appraisal.

PROTEST DEADLINES

The 2014 protest deadline for most owners of real property in Harris County is June 2nd. The filing deadline for business personal property and real property accounts sent value notices after May 1 is 30 days from the date the notice was mailed.

While a printed protest form is included with each value notice, owners who decide to protest are encouraged to take advantage of our new electronic notice and protest filing system.

PROTEST PROCESS

If you think the market value of your property is incorrect, the appraisal district encourages you to file a protest.

There are two programs – iFile and iSettle – that we have in place to help streamline any appeal you choose to make. You can use both of these programs from the comfort of your home or your office.

Using iFile and iSettle can eliminate the need for you to come to the district office at 13013 Northwest Freeway. This will be especially useful this year while construction on 290 has increased traffic congestion on the highway and service roads around HCAD’s building.

Receipt of your protest will be immediately verified by email. Your data, along with other market information, will be reviewed by an appraiser, and you will be notified by email of a decision on your iSettle protest.

As soon as HCAD notifies you of our decision, you will have immediate online access to all of the information, including the comparable sales, used in considering your appeal. You can use that information to decide whether to accept or reject HCAD’s decision. If you are not satisfied, you’ll be scheduled to make your case at a formal Appraisal Review Board hearing.

PROPERTY OWNER’S ELECTRONIC NOTICE AND PROTEST FILING SYSTEM

The Harris County Appraisal District has launched a new electronic notice and protest filing system for property owners.

Property owners can access the new system through their property account on www.hcad.org by clicking on the “File a Protest” button in the upper left or by directly going to owners.hcad.org.

To view the new system and see the options available, go to owners.hcad.org

 

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