Property tax appraisals began arriving by mail earlier this month and more notices are expected to be mailed in the coming days. For property owners wishing to dispute their valuations, there are important deadlines right around the corner.
The deadline to file a protest is determined by the date the letters were mailed, with most having a May 15 deadline. The notices that are just now being mailed will have later protest deadlines into late May and early June, according to Liberty County Central Appraisal District’s Chief Appraiser Lana McCarty.
To protest your property taxes, you will need to fill out a notice of protest explaining why you believe your property’s valuations should be adjusted. The form can be found at https://www.libertycad.com/protest-form/
Rising property values might be upsetting, said McCarty, but the Liberty County CAD is following the property tax code that is set by the state legislature.
“When we see people moving into the county from other areas and paying higher prices for the property, that sets the market value,” McCarty said. “The good news for the property owner is they can file a protest.”
McCarty said that property owners should take photos and document problems, and be prepared to explain their concerns.
“Tell us what’s wrong with your property. All we see is the outside. We go by square footage, the exterior of the property and what properties in that area are going for,” she said. “If your floor is not level or your house hasn’t been updated in 40 years, tell us. That helps us justify those changes. If the State Comptroller comes in and asks we we are lowering your taxes, then we can show them why.”
For agricultural property owners hoping to file for an exemption, the deadline is June 26. Any form received after that date will cause the property to be subject to a 10 percent penalty if the ag exemption is granted.
To qualify for an agricultural exemption, there are certain requirements that must be met, such as the number of acres and how the property is being used. The acreage requirement for beekeeping is much less than cattle, for example. There are other ways to qualify and the Liberty County CAD can explain these in greater detail.
McCarty recommends that people interested in an agricultural exemption be patient as the process may take five years.
“Every year, fill out the application at our office for an agricultural exemption. That will show the paper trail,” she said. Property owners should also keep up with documents pertaining to their agricultural property, such as leases and receipts.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way the Liberty County CAD is hearing initial property tax protests.
“We know people are stressing right now in light of our economic situation. We are trying to settle many cases informally through the phone or email. This will help residents avoid coming in on the hearing date,” McCarty said.