Reminder: there are only 19 days left to file your 2013 tax returns without an extension.
I am sure most of you know that Texas does not have a state income tax on individuals. Instead, the tax revenue is generated from property taxes. If you live in Harris County and own real property (a house or land), you probably have already received your valuation notice for your 2014 property taxes. I am sure that the surrounding counties will be sending out their valuations soon. I opened ours this morning, and our valuation increased significantly.
The valuation of the property is what the taxes are based on, so if your valuation increases so do your taxes. However, you can protest your valuation yourself, or hire someone to do it for you. The standard fee practice is that the protest is handled on a contingency basis, meaning that if your protest is not successful in reducing your valuation and taxes, you owe nothing. If the protest is successful, the representative gets a percentage of the tax savings as a fee. This is usually a 50/50 split between the homeowner and the representative.
I began handling these protests professionally last year, and had a very good success record. My fee structure is also cheaper - 60% to the homeowner, 40% to me. I have concluded that even if your valuation does not increase, you lose nothing by protesting, and may come out ahead. If you do not protest, you have no way of knowing what data was used to arrive at your valuation.
If you need help with your income taxes or property taxes, call me at 832-387-4829 or email me by clicking the envelope in the upper right corner of the screen.
Here are links to the Appraisal Districts for the nine counties in the Houston metro area so you can check yours: