The Tarrant Appraisal District (“TAD”) has worked diligently to provide timely, clear, and concise information to customers’ questions regarding our operations in light of current events as well as longstanding policies, procedures, and responsibilities to governing statutes. Listed below are questions we have been posed by print, television, and online media in 2020. We want you to know our answers – directly.
Q: “I know you are encouraging people to file protests online or try to get adjustments on the phone. Have y’all developed a system yet for in-person protests?” A: Health and safety of the public and our staff is the main focus right now. Currently we have a radio announcement being broadcast to the parking lot around our offices informing property owners of the phone numbers and email addresses by which they may contact us. All appraisers are either manning the phones or email to meet the taxpayers’ needs.
Q: “It seems that a lot of home values stayed the same or went up or down slightly. I was wondering if you had any statistics about how many increased, decreased or stayed the same compared to last year?” A: Here is a breakdown of our 2020 Notices of Appraised Value as of May 1:
171,345 No Change in market value
283,345* Decreased in market value
207,410** Increased in market value
662,100 Total parcels notified
*Mostly residential properties with a 1-2% decrease. **More than half were residential properties increased by less than 10% – commercial properties in this category had an average increase of 11%.
Q: “Could the coronavirus outbreak and collapsing economic conditions impact property values this year?” A: State law sets the appraisal date as January 1, 2020 for all Texas appraisal districts. TAD’s appraisals for 2020 are based on local market data as of January 1, 2020. Business and home values will be determined on this information. How this outbreak will affect values going forward has yet to be determined.
Q: “Will TAD be able to make accommodations without penalty for people who cannot pay their taxes this year?” A: The Tarrant Appraisal District does not determine how much property tax a property owner must pay. And the Appraisal District does not collect property taxes so I cannot answer your question about any accommodations regarding tax payments or penalties for not paying property taxes.
Q: “Will all appraisal notices go out at the same time? How long will taxpayers have to file a protest? Will there be a staggered schedule for filing a protest?” A: We are encouraging property owners to use our online protest process if they are going to protest. That would be the safest and healthiest approach. And to check back with our website after notices go out on the process of communication with the district about values. I hope people will stay at home to do their part in bringing this health crisis to an end. Details are not finalized, but we are working on the processing of this year’s appeal season.
Q: “What is the average market value increase for residential properties in Tarrant County?” A: On average, residential property market values are up 3-5%, while commercial market values are up 10-11% for the year 2020.
Q: “I noticed that in the past you say you sent appraisal notices to every property owner. This year you did not send to everyone, only those with $1,000 change, change of ownership or exemption change, correct?” A: We sent 2020 Notices of Appraised Value to all property owners to whom the law requires notices be sent. That did include new property owners, owners whose exemptions changes, and those property owners whose market or appraised value increased at least $1,000. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, we chose not to mail appraisal notices until May 1, 2020. As a result, property owners will have until June 1, 2020 to file a timely protest.
Q: “People whose values froze from last year did not get a notice, and this is the first time under your leadership that has happened, correct?” A: There were no values that were “frozen” from last year. Appraisal districts across the state, along with some local and State officials, sought guidance from the Governor’s office regarding the concerns of values increasing in 2020 as a result of COVID-19. The Governor’s office chose not to waive or suspend any laws which might allow the values in 2020 to remain the same as 2019. As a result, all appraisal districts were required by State law to appraise properties as of January 1, 2020.
Q: “I also noticed that people who did receive the blue sheet (Residential Notice of Appraised Value) did not get the second white-colored insert you usually sent out on how to file a protest.” A: There were five (5) distinct insert categories in every envelope mailed, which included the following: (1,2) two blue 8.5” x 11” pages – a Notice of Appraised Value and a Notice of Protest Tax Year 2020 Filing Instructions, (3) a white 8.5” x 11” page – Texas Comptroller of Pubic Accounts Property Taxpayer Remedies, (4) a dark blue 3.75” x 8.5” ‘buck slip’ insert – Tarrant County Clerk Property Fraud Alert, and (5) a white 3.75” x 8.5” ‘buck slip’ insert – Tarrant County Census Reminder. All of these forms were included to inform property owners of the process, provide assistance with protesting, and inform about fraud and the 2020 Census.
Q: “I also noticed that you have moved last year’s values from the prominent place it has always been to a teeny weeny box on the left side that is very easy to miss.” A: This is simply not true. The format of the blue notice (Residential Notice of Appraised Value) has been the same for the past several years. The location of last year’s value and current year’s value are in the same location they have been for a decade. All elements on the form are there as a result of State law.
Q: “I believe all of the above is designed to make it harder for people to protest, to find info and to understand. Why should you not be criticized for these anti-homeowner changes?” A: I disagree. TAD goes out of its way to make sure that the property owner has every opportunity to file a timely protest. As stated before, we provide the State Comptroller’s handout regarding property taxpayer remedies, protest filing instructions with every appraisal notice sent to property owners, a notice of protest form (on the back side of the appraisal notice) prefilled out with bar codes and account number for the property owners’ convenience. We also produce and provide helpful videos to inform, educate and help property owners understand the following: The Role of an Appraiser, how to search for properties on TAD’s website, how to navigate TAD’s interactive maps, the residential informal protest process, understanding your property value notice, market values and appraised values, how to create an online account to track/follow taxpayer accounts, how TAD determines residential market values, and the automated market value review/negotiation and online protest features. Some of these videos have both English and Spanish versions. Our staff has also created an online protest/negotiation application which allows property owners the opportunity to protest online, negotiate values online, and upload certain data to be reviewed at a later date by the appraisal staff. We encourage folks to utilize this option for the very convenience it offers them. TAD has never taken any steps or actions to “make it harder for people to protest.” In fact we try our best to make the process as simple and easy as possible while following the law.
Q: “How many residential protests were there last year out of how many total residential property owners?” A: Out of the more than 608,000 residential properties in Tarrant County – 170,000 accounts were protested. TAD appraisers resolved informally, without the need of a protest hearing, more than 130,000. Only 15,000 accounts went to a formal protest hearing.
Q: “How are you handling protests? Teleconferencing? Video conferencing? In person hearings?” A: The health and safety of property owners, TAD staff members and the Appraisal Review Board members are our utmost concern. We are exploring all three options and likely will be using all three approaches as State law allows.