How to Successfully Appeal Property Tax Value

When the leader of the free world, excuse me. When Brandon Turner, the leader of the financial freedom movement known as BiggerPockets, calls you out on your own closed facebook group [ Real Estate Investing for the W2 Employee] to write a blog entry on something I shared…you kind of just have to.
A little background: this was our first apartment complex purchase and I’ve never appealed a Property Tax Value before. Total newbs here. As I typically do on newb situations, I reach up and out to find someone or someones who have successfully appealed before. I found several but the impression I received is this was a painful process that more times than not, was not a successful endevaor. I felt I had contradictory evidence and it was a no brainer to give it a try. I was also determined because our purchase price was half of the tax accessed value, so I pressed on.

  • Purchase Price: $700,000
  • Tax Accessed Value: $1,501,000

I did receive some advice to send the appeal through my lawyer on his stationery. This prompted me to call him and in his true, calm demeanor, advised me that wasn’t necessary at this point, “just follow their process and call me if you run into issues.” Done. And this is what I did.
In our county’s particular situation, they send out a notice of the taxable value for that year and you essentially have 30 days to submit your appeal.

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If your not familiar with your counties’ property appraiser’s website, starting using it daily until you do. We invest in several different counties and these are some of the most cumbersome sites to complete a successful search. Practice makes you less insane, I mean perfect.
Here’s an example of many property tax limited search functions. This was a real scenario where I finally just called the county’s property appraiser’s office:

Me: Hello Ms. Property Tax office worker lady. I’m trying to find my property on the county’s website and it appears to not be listed. Here’s my address…

Ms. Property Tax office worker lady: Yes it is listed. The site recognizes the word Drive as just the letters D-R. And don’t put the period on the end of DR. That will cause it to be confused again.

The takeaway here is use your county’s property tax and appraisal sites often to accept and appreciate its quirks. And you have to appreciate them, doing anything else will result in frustration.
Ok, back to receipt of the tax notice….
So we’ve received the tax notice, we had 30 days to appeal and the notice came with a couple pages of instructions.  The amount of documentation they are requesting may seem overwhelming. I initially thought, no way they want or need all this, but I did want to follow the instructions to a T. So, I loaded ’em UP!  The picture at the top is this post is the actual documentation I sent. Well over 500 pages.
Our county required the following: portion of the tax form that had to be returned (and on top) of all other documentation. This was a single page consisting of a few short answer questions. Also required were copies of every lease on file, a copy of the HUD and all closing documents, and all documents had to be shipped in a USPS envelope by a certain post mark date – I went with the tracking number option.
Once I saw delivery was confirmed from the tracking #, I called the property appraiser’s office to confirm. No doubt they were inundated with requests and while they couldn’t initially find my submittal,  they took down my information and I noted the person I spoke to and created myself a reminder to call back in a few weeks. With some follow-up they confirmed receipt and noted actively processing our appeal.
Decisively following those instructions explicitly, comprehensively and meticulously, led us to:


Screen Shot 2018-06-29 at 6.53.41 AM
This reduced our tax bill by approx. 40% and our accessed property tax value is now more in-line with the purchase price of the property. This will save us and our partners thousands of dollars this year.
In summary:

  1. Become familiar with your county’s tax accessor and appraisal websites, use them regularly.
  2.  Know when to expect your tax notices will arrive and how long you have to appeal (post mark dates are the deadline to appeal).
  3. Follow the directions explicitly. Dot all your I’s and cross all your T’s.
  4. If mailing, be sure to go with an option that provides a tracking #.
  5. Once you submit your appeal, follow up with a phone call to your tax accessor, ensuring they received it. Make note of the time, day, and person you spoke to.
  6. Patiently wait…
  7. Be on the lookout next year. You may have to appeal again!

Thank you for the challenge Brandon Turner!
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