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How We Lowered Our Property Taxes and Saved $315 a Year

We used a house appraisal as documentation and our county appraisal district reduced the value of our house and lowered our property tax bill. We saved $315 and expect to continue to save money on our property taxes for the next several years.

We didn’t just have a recent house appraisal handy. When we took advantage of the low mortgage interest rates in 2012 to refinance our house the lender required an updated home appraisal to get our home refinancing approved. When we got our property tax bill the home appraisal became the ammunition we needed to fight our local appraisal district and get our property taxes lowered.

Getting our property tax bill lowered is not a new thing for us. While we may not be able to fight city hall, we can, and we do, fight our county appraisal district every year. Each year, we submit the request for an informal hearing (which in our case is meeting with a county employee in his cubicle for about five minutes) that comes with our property tax notice. What we have learned from doing this year after year is that our local county appraisal office always leaves some wiggle room when they value our home. There is the amount on the initial property tax notice, and the reduced amount they allow their employees to offer when we request a meeting. So just by showing up to contest the bill, we get our property taxes lowered some every year.

The house appraisal from our refinance was the best documentation we could have to get our property taxes lowered because the county appraisal district won’t argue with an appraisal. Ours showed a decrease to our house’s value by almost $30,000. Normally that would be depressing news, but it’s a temporary drop because of the housing market. Until property values return to their pre-recession levels, we may as well pay less in property taxes.

Armed with the appraisal, we met with our local tax assessor’s office. They reduced their valuation of our house to match the value shown on our appraisal. We saved $315 on our property taxes in 2012. We understand that the Hays County Appraisal District will increase the value of our house again, but that will happen slowly over a few years so we expect to continue to save money on our property taxes for the next several years. Our property tax savings goes into our children’s college education fund. Every little bit helps.

If you do not have a recent house appraisal, and don’t want to spend the money for one, you have other options. As my dad use to say, “If you don’t ask, the answer is always, ‘no.'” The next time you get your property tax bill, why not ask your local county appraisal district to lower your property taxes? If yours operates as mine does, you may save some money just for scheduling an appointment to contest the bill. For more substantial savings, it helps to have documentation to back up your claim. I’ve done the research for you. Please read my article about ways you can reduce your property taxes, gather your documents, and see if you can get your property taxes lowered.

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