El Paso homeowners are receiving property tax valuation notices this week that are showing that the value of their homes have gone up by tens of thousands of dollars in the past year. The higher valuations could lead to sharply increased property tax bills later this year, depending on what local governments do with tax rates.

Texas law allows property owners to protest their appraisal if they think it’s too high. The process starts with an informal protest to a CAD appraiser, who can review evidence presented by the property owner and lower the value. A more formal process of appealing to the Appraisal Review Board is available if the property owner isn’t satisfied.

To lower a valuation, the homeowner has to present evidence that the CAD valuation is too high, based on market rates. Examples would be photos of structural problems that affect value, or information that shows the appraisal district has incorrect information about your property.

El Paso Matters asked David Stone, the assistant chief appraiser for CAD, what homeowners should do to prepare for a protest. Here’s his advice:

  1. Make sure the property characteristics the appraisal district shows for your property are accurate. You can check what characteristics we have for your property on our website.
  2. Make sure you have all the exemptions to which you are entitled, especially the homestead exemption if you reside at the property.
  3. Request the appraisal district’s evidence. In most cases for residential property, the CAD will prepare a comparative market analysis and an equity analysis for the property.
  4. Bring your closing statement if you recently purchased the property, or a recent appraisal if you have one.
  5. Bring pictures of any problems with the property and estimates to get the problems fixed. It is important to have pictures that corroborate the estimates.
  6. Get a comparative market analysis from a real estate professional. Make sure any analysis you get adjusts the comparable properties to the subject property’s characteristics.
  7. If you protest based on equity (your property is not appraised equally to similar properties), make sure the properties you compare to are actually similar and adjusted for any differences in characteristics with the subject.
  8. If you bring in evidence, load it on a thumb drive or print out copies. The appraisal district cannot download evidence from your cell phone.
  9. Please read all the information accompanying your notice of appraised value and any subsequent appointment letter. They contain important information that will help prevent unpleasant surprises in the protest process.
Property valuation protests are handled by the El Paso Central Appraisal District, 5801 Trowbridge Drive. (Robert Moore/El Paso Matters)

The deadline to file a protest is May 16, or 30 days after the date of the valuation notice, whichever is later.  About half of the valuation notices have been sent, with the bulk of the rest expected to be sent by April 22, officials said.

The protest process can be started by calling El Paso CAD at 915-780-2131 or emailing admin@epcad.org. Protests also can be filed at the El Paso Central Appraisal District office at 5801 Trowbridge Drive.

Under Texas law, the taxable value of a house with a homestead exemption can only rise by 10% each year. Because of rising valuations the past two years, many El Paso homeowners are likely locked in to 10% taxable valuation increases each year for the next several years.

This video from 2021 explains the property taxation system in Texas, and how you can impact your property taxes. The 2022 deadline for protesting a property appraisal is May 16 or 30 days after the date of your valuation notice, whichever is later.

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986.