POSTED: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - 9:17pm
UPDATED: Thursday, July 15, 2010 - 8:09pm
Every year the county decides what your property is worth, and therefore how large your tax bill will be.
But what if they are wrong, sometimes wildly wrong? You can protest, but is isn’t easy.
Now, you know it’s coming…and there’s no way to avoid it. Your property appraisal will arrive in the spring, and sometimes, your value is way off base.
But, after all, it is the 21st century. Why not do it online?
If you want to find a property, find an owner or a property, find the description of a house, the size of the lot the value…you can do it all on line.
But search through the frequently asked questions portion of the Smith County Appraisal District, go to the contact us page, search the entire site.
You won’t find out how to protest online. That’s because you can’t.
“We’re trying to add more and more each year…more electronic content,” says Tax Assessor-Collector Gary Barber. “ And this is the thing that we run up against, we and the appraisal district, is your funding.”
But go to the Harris County site in Houston, and there it is. In Smith County, it must be done in writing within 30 days. And then an appointment must be made. And that time for this year has passed.
Barber explains, “They have to have a deadline for filing protests because they have to have the hearings and a final determination because by law, the tax rolls have to be certified by July the 25th."
We wanted to talk to the Smith County Appraisal District about the procedure.
They refused an interview, saying the window for protest is closed.
But , Barber was happy to explain. “Sometimes we have to weigh what is the cost versus the benefit,” he says. “And like I say, most of the times, I think, our appraisal district bends over backwards to work with people.”
It’s cumbersome and the window to appeal is short, but the explanation is partly state statute, partly cost.
But wouldn’t online filing lower costs, requiring less manpower? It does in Houston.