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New online tax protest system leads to fewer settlements, more appeals

Wednesday, May 22, 2019 by Jack Craver

The May 20 meeting of the Travis Central Appraisal District Board did not assuage former Travis County Judge Bill Aleshire’s concerns about TCAD’s new process for dealing with tax protests. Under the new system, the first step for property owners who want to protest their tax appraisals is no longer a face-to-face meeting with TCAD staff. Instead, they submit their evidence online and wait for an electronic response. Ninety percent of the face-to-face meetings ended with settlements, with taxpayers getting an average of a 6 percent reduction from the initial appraisal, said Aleshire, who works as an attorney for ProTax, which represents property owners protesting appraisals. At the May 20 meeting, Betty Thompson, the chair of the board, reported that only 20 percent of protests were expected to be settled via the new online system. As a result, there will be far more taxpayers taking their protests to the Appraisal Review Board, which will now set up 40 three-person panels to hear the protests. The hearings will begin June 4 and are expected to wrap up on Aug. 30. Each panel will be expected to hear 40 cases a day, beginning at 8 a.m. During the meeting, members of the ARB discussed providing lunch to the panelists out of concern that there wouldn’t be enough time for lunch breaks. Aleshire said he expects the process to be grueling and that many of the appointees may quit as a result. “It’s a train wreck,” he said.

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