Atascosa Central Appraisal District Inspection Notice to Owners

The Atascosa Central Appraisal District (“ACAD”) is sending notices to taxpayers asking for a physical inspection of personal property in order to place an accurate value of the improvements (i.e. house, mobile home, outbuildings, etc.) as the district compiles information for its 2021 appraisal roll. Utilizing methods like notices to taxpayers stating they “must make a physical inspection” without some prominent notice that a physical inspection is voluntary creates the impression that compliance is mandatory, which is absolutely not the case in Texas.  

While the tactic to obtain the accurate value of improvements, such as a letter to taxpayers requesting physical inspections, is not illegal, the implications created by the letter appear to be an attempt to subvert the longstanding and sacred position of the Texas Legislature to not require disclosure of such information. 

 The Texas Legislature has consistently stated that expanding government intrusion into the private lives and private transactions of Texans is not an option. Texas is a non-disclosure state meaning that neither the state nor local municipalities can compel homebuyers or sellers to disclose sales price information.

Please copy and paste the text below on this page and email the Chief Appraiser at ACAD@atascosacad.com to let them know you are OPPOSED to the Physical Inspection notices being sent to property owners.

Dear Ms. Michelle Berdeaux,

I am sending you this letter in regards to ACAD sending notices to taxpayers asking for a physical inspection of personal property in order to place an accurate value of the improvements (i.e. house, mobile home, outbuildings, etc.) as the district compiles information for its 2021 appraisal roll.

Utilizing methods like notices to taxpayers stating they “must make a physical inspection” without some prominent notice that a physical inspection is voluntary creates the impression that compliance is mandatory, which is absolutely not the case in Texas.

While the tactic to obtain the accurate value of improvements, such as a letter to taxpayers requesting physical inspections, is not illegal, the implications created by the letter appear to be an attempt to subvert the longstanding and sacred position of the Texas Legislature to not require disclosure of such information.

I believe there is a need for ACAD to reexamine its methodology in determining uniform appraisal practices. If ACAD is determined to inspect real property for appraisal roll purposes, ACAD must be more transparent and forthright about the information it sends to the residents of Atascosa County. Surely no reasonable person could oppose such increased honesty and transparency. ACAD should either stop sending the notice to property owners altogether or include language, prominently displayed, that illustrates the fact that a property owner’s willingness to allow property inspections is strictly voluntary and failure to do so will not result in any penalty or fines.

Please be more transparent and forthright about the information you send to the residents of Atascosa County.

Sincerely,

{YOUR NAME}

How to Protest Your Property Taxes

Source: comptroller.texas.gov

Appraisal Protests and Appeals
If the appraisal district appraises your property at a higher amount than in the previous year, Tax Code Section 25.19 requires the appraisal district to send a notice by May 1, or by April 1 if your property is a residence homestead, or as soon as practical thereafter.

If you are dissatisfied with your appraised value or if errors exist in the appraisal records regarding your property, you should file a Form 50-132, Notice of Protest (PDF) with the ARB. In most cases, you have until May 15 or 30 days from the date the appraisal district notice is delivered — whichever date is later.

After filing your protest, you will receive written notice of the date, time, place and subject matter for a formal hearing with the ARB. At the formal hearing, the ARB listens to both the taxpayer and the chief appraiser. You may discuss your objections about your property value, exemptions and special appraisal in a hearing with the ARB. Most appraisal districts, however, will informally review your protest with you to try to resolve your concerns prior to a hearing. Check with your appraisal district for details. The ARB’s decisions are binding only for the tax year in question.

If you lease property and are required by the lease contract to pay the owner’s property taxes, you may appeal the property’s value to the ARB. You may make this appeal only if the property owner does not. This appeal right applies to leased land, buildings and personal property. The appraisal district will send the notice of appraised value to the property owner, who is required to send a copy to you. If you appeal, the ARB will send any subsequent notices to you. You may request that the chief appraiser send the notice to you if you are contractually obligated to reimburse the property owner for the taxes imposed on the property.

The Comptroller’s office is prohibited from advising a property owner, agent or appraisal district about a matter under protest and from intervening in a protest.

Once the ARB rules on a protest, it sends a written order by email or certified mail. A property owner must request email delivery in writing and provide a valid email address to receive appraisal district notices electronically. If you are dissatisfied with the ARB’s findings, you have the right to appeal its decision to district court in the county where the property is located. Alternatively, you may appeal the ARB’s determination to binding arbitration or to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) provided certain criteria are met.

Appraisal Review Board Hearings

The ARB must send you notice of the date, time, place and subject matter of your hearing at least 15 days in advance of the hearing. At least 14 days prior to the hearing, the appraisal district must send you the Comptroller’s Property Taxpayer Remedies (PDF), the ARB hearing procedures and a statement to inform you that you can request copies of the information the appraisal district will use at the hearing. These items and the notice of hearing are often sent together.

You can appear at the ARB hearing in person, by telephone conference call, by affidavit or through an agent. You may exchange evidence using a small electronic device or provide hard copies. The ARB hearing procedures will give you details regarding the electronic devices accepted, how many hard copies to provide and other details related to your hearing. You should become thoroughly familiar with the ARB procedures and adhere to them.

Be on time for your hearing and be prepared. ARBs try to conduct hearings as informally as possible, but they should be treated with the respect you would have for a court proceeding. Confirm the date, time and place of your hearing and arrive on time, or earlier if possible.

You, or your designated agent, and the appraisal district representative will both have an opportunity to present evidence, examine witnesses and state an opinion of the property value (if applicable). You may elect whether to present evidence first or after the appraisal district representative presents evidence.

Take anything that will help make your case. It is up to you to have what you need to prove your case. You cannot go to the hearing and just say the appraisal district is wrong. You should gather all information about your property that may be relevant in considering the true value of your home such as:

  • Photographs of property (yours and comparables)
  • Receipts or estimates for repairs
  • Sales price documentation, such as listings, closing statements and other information
  • Calculations of median level of appraisal, if equal and uniform appraisal is protested
  • Affidavits, if needed
  • Newspaper articles
  • Architectural drawings or blueprints
  • Engineering reports
  • Property surveys
  • Deed records

Part of your hearing involves evidence and another part involves arguing your case. Arguing means presenting your case by a clear and concise presentation of your evidence. Do not get personal. You may feel that your taxes are too high, but neither the ARB nor the appraisal district set your taxes. While the ARB can consider the effect of general economic and environmental factors may have on your property value, it cannot take into account your personal economic situation. Emotional arguments or wishful thinking will not get you anywhere with the ARB, whose job is to certify the value on your home based on what the market dictates.

Learn about sales price disclosure in Texas.
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Read up on the Texas Property Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
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