Harris County Appraisal District
13013 Northwest Freeway
Houston, Texas 77040-6305
TELEPHONE INFORMATION CENTER
Hours: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday - Friday
ARB HEARING RESCHEDULES
(Rescheduling Calls Only)
Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Monday - Friday
Contact Us | Location Map
TAX PAYMENTS CANNOT BE ACCEPTED AT HCAD
Harris County Appraisal District
has no authority to receive tax
payments for any jurisdiction.
All tax payments must be mailed
or delivered to the tax collector
for the jurisdiction that sent you
the tax bill.
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Appraisal Review Board Applications Are Now Being Accepted
Applications from Harris County citizens interested in service on the Appraisal Review Board are being accepted by the administrative judge for the state district courts in Harris County until October 15. The ARB is a citizen board that sits in panels of three to hear property owner protests that cannot be resolved informally with HCAD. Service on the review board does not constitute a full-time job, but members are compensated when conducting hearings. Former ARB members can apply if they have not served on the ARB for at least a year after serving all or part of three consecutive terms. ARB Application forms are available HERE or by calling the ARB executive office at 713.957.5265. More information and exclusions are outlined in the NEWS RELEASE.
HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS
The Texas Legislature made significant changes to the requirements for homestead exemptions. These affect all types of homestead exemptions, not just the regular homestead exemptions. The changes also affect over-65 exemptions, over-55 surviving spouse exemptions, disability exemptions, and the 100% Disabled Veteran exemptions (all of which are considered homestead exemptions). All new applications must comply with all of the statutory requirements, which are outlined HERE.
We are currently accepting homestead applications for 2012 and 2013.
The 2013 protest deadline for most owners of real property in Harris County is May 31st.
The filing deadline for business personal property and real property accounts sent value
notices after May 1 is 30 days from the date the notice was mailed.
While a printed protest form is included with each value notice, owners who decide to protest are encouraged to take advantage of our new electronic notice and protest filing system.
PROPERTY OWNER’S ELECTRONIC NOTICE AND PROTEST FILING SYSTEM
The Harris County Appraisal District has launched a new electronic notice and
protest filing system for property owners.
The new system allows property owners to iFile a protest and use iSettle to
accept or decline a settlement offer from HCAD. Using the new system, property
owners are also able to reschedule a formal hearing and look at their hearing
evidence on the system.
Property owners can access the new system through their property account on
www.hcad.org by clicking on the “File a Protest” button in the upper left
or by directly going to owners.hcad.org. Once there, property owners can use their iFile
number to create a log-in that will link to their account. Property owners
also can link an account to their personal email.
When the registration is complete, property owners will be able to view
documents online. If owners elect to enroll in paperless delivery, documents
will be emailed directly to them.
To view the new system and see the options available, go to owners.hcad.org.
For more information about protesting and settling your value online:
ARB PROTEST HEARINGS
To ensure a smooth flow of the protest hearing process, hearings are scheduled throughout the day. If you arrive more than 30 minutes early for your hearing, it will be difficult to find a parking space at HCAD and the seating capacity of our 1st floor waiting area may be exceeded.
For these reasons, in cooperation with the Houston Fire Marshal’s office, we request that you not arrive for your hearing more than 30 minutes before the time it is scheduled. This will help alleviate the possibility of overcrowding and will reduce the amount of time you may need to wait for your hearing to begin.
PLEASE DON’T ARRIVE MORE THAN 30 MINUTES EARLY!
WATCH OUR VIDEOS
The Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD) is proud to announce the launch of a new video page on our website.
The production of short, informational videos is one of HCAD’s latest initiatives designed to help provide the public
with a greater level of assistance and service. These videos help explain the district’s role in the property tax system,
our operations and programs, and provide information on various appraisal-related topics.
Each video has its own page which includes a brief description of the content, relevant links,
and a transcript of the audio portion. Enjoy!
Residential Field Appraiser Facts
The Harris County Appraisal District’s residential field staff is engaged in various appraisal projects throughout the year. Each project has a basic goal of verifying property characteristics, external influences, and other data. This information is used in the appraisal of property as of January 1st of each year. Correct data is essential to developing accurate estimates of value; therefore, field inspections conducted by our appraisers play a very important part in the process.
Each HCAD appraiser works from his or her own personal vehicle, which has a magnetic sign identifying the appraiser as a Harris County Appraisal District employee. The residential appraiser wears a green vest or jacket with the HCAD emblem on the front and the words HCAD APPRAISER on the back. The appraiser also carries an identification badge with his or her picture, name, and unique appraiser number.
Appraisers are required to enter changes in property characteristics directly to a field device, and most do so while sitting in their vehicle. Their vehicle is essentially their mobile office. Below are the various field projects and detailed descriptions of the type of project we may be performing in your neighborhood.
In most projects, the appraiser will knock on the front door, identify themselves as an HCAD appraiser, and ask permission to measure the home and any other structures on the property. If access is denied, the appraiser will leave the property and estimate the size and characteristics from the street. If the property owner is not home, the appraiser will measure the sections of the structures that are accessible without entering a gate.
To verify that the individual working in your neighborhood is actually a HCAD appraiser, please feel free to contact our office at 713-812-5800.
Our appraisers inspect neighborhoods and individual properties to observe changes in neighborhood condition, trends and property characteristics. By law, we must continually update property characteristic data to reflect changes brought about by new construction, new parcels, remodeling, demolition, and other changes. We receive information on the location of building activity through building permits from the cities and county, fire reports, data mailers, and other sources. During a new construction inspection project, an appraiser will inspect only those with identified changes. Depending on the volume of construction activity, you might see one or more appraisers working in your area for the entire day or for just a short time.
The appraiser physically inspects properties that have sold, typically within the last 18 months. The purpose of the inspection is to verify the accuracy of our data about the sales transaction information and the characteristics of the property. The appraiser usually does not visit every home on the street, only those with recent sales activity. Depending on the volume of sales activity, you might see an appraiser working in your area for the entire day or for just a short time.
Whether or not it sells or has new construction, we try to inspect every residential property in Harris County once every four to six years. The two projects below are related to this periodic inspection. During a reinspection project it is likely you will see an appraiser in your neighborhood for several days.
1. Driving Review:
A driving review is a general inspection of property to ensure that our property records are accurate. The appraiser’s responsibility is to verify the accuracy of property data for every property within a neighborhood. The appraiser generally does so from the appraiser's vehicle. This project is carried out in conjunction with the field reinspection project described below. If the appraiser determines that a property needs a closer look during the driving review the appraiser will assign it to the field reinspection project for an on-site inspection.
2. Field Reinspection:
The appraiser will conduct an on-site inspection of properties in the neighborhood to verify characteristics and neighborhood condition. It is typical for the appraiser to visit most, if not all, of the properties on a street.
UNDERSTANDING THE PROPERTY TAX PROCESS
The property tax is the primary source of local government revenue in Texas and provides funding for the services provided by counties, cities, school districts, and a variety of special entities such as community colleges, port authorities, hospital and flood control districts, and municipal utility districts. While the total combined state and local tax burden in Texas is among the lowest in the nation, the portion of the tax burden borne by property taxpayers in Texas is relatively high.
Under Texas law, all real property (land, buildings, etc.) and tangible personal property used for the production of income (business inventories, equipment, etc.) is taxable at its January 1 market value unless exempt by law, or unless subject to special appraisal provisions, such as the appraisal of agricultural land at its productivity value.
Three factors determine the total amount of taxes imposed on a property. These include the appraised value established by the appraisal district for the county in which the property is located; the exemptions, if any, to which that property may be entitled, such as the homestead exemption for owner-occupied residential property; and the tax rates set by the governing bodies of the taxing units (jurisdictions) in which the property is located. The purpose of the appraisal is to allocate the tax burden fairly among all taxpayers.
For owner-occupied residential property receiving a homestead exemption, appraised value may be lower than the property’s market value because of what the law refers to as the “homestead cap.” Under current law, while a homestead property’s January 1 market value isn’t capped, that property’s appraised value is capped at a maximum increase of 10% each year. For example, the January 1 market value of a capped residence might be $200,000. However, if that home were appraised at $175,000 on January 1 of the prior year, this year’s appraised value would be $192,500 ($175,000 x 1.10). A residential property qualifies for the cap the year after the year the owner first receives his or her homestead exemption on the property. In our present economy, there are likely to be situations where the market value of a home may have decreased as of January 1, but the current year's appraised value may still increase because it was capped the previous year at less than the current market value.
Sands L. Stiefer, RPA