Our 27th year of publishing
Published May 18, 2021
Lucky van, shoes activated for appraisal clash
How my property tax protest transpired
By John Toth / The Bulletin
It was time to fire up the legendary 1995 green van, on which I have spent more money than I should have or will ever admit. It had a job to do.
Each year I drive the van to the Brazoria County Appraisal District office to informally protest my property tax rate. I already had my lucky shoes on. I wore them to trim the lawn that morning. It’s the oldest pair I have.
Before I headed out, I asked my Facebook friends to pray for me. I think that completed the checklist - lucky car, lucky shoes, asking for prayers.
The old van was behaving perfectly, as always. I drive it around town occasionally, trying to imagine that the kids are little again, and we’re on our way to Orlando with a Turtle carrier secured to the roof.
This particular morning, though, there was no time for reminiscing. I was on a mission to get my property values lowered, since the new rate was once again way over the top, by my calculations, anyway.
Here is the way I calculate my property tax rate on my homestead, where I have lived since 1989 and have raised a family. I am not planning to move or flip the house. This is my home. I know that property values are going through the roof. According to my calculations, the value for homeowners like me should stay the same, but that’s asking for too much. The goal is to get as close as possible.
Which is why each year I make a pilgrimage to the Appraisal District and state my claim. They have worked with me in the past. We have cordially reached an agreement without having to go to a formal hearing.
I don’t think a formal hearing would help, anyway. I can’t really present any evidence against property value increases all around me. They are happening. Houses are selling for ridiculous prices in the area literally minutes after being put on the market.
I checked in on the first floor and also filled out an application for the 65+ exemption. That should lower the rate even more.
“Because you turned 65 in December, you qualify for the exemption for 2020 also, which you didn’t claim,” said the nice clerk who processed my protest application and prepared it to be sent to the second floor for the informal hearing.
“The county should be adjusting your 2020 taxes and credit the difference to your 2021 taxes,” she said.
After a short wait, I stated my case to an appraiser, and after a few minutes of typing away on her keyboard, she turned the monitor so that I could see the results.
Meanwhile, a woman next to me was letting another appraiser know that her house appraisal by a park should not have gone up that much, especially since the bright lights at the park attract teens at all hours of the night, and she often has to call the police.
I’d bet that these appraisers hear some colorful stories. Every year that I have protested, my story has stayed the same - the new appraisal is too dang much and needs to come down.
She asked me to look at the monitor. “How does that look?”
“Deal,” I replied. I was satisfied. The value went up a bit, but not by the original $9,000 - not by far.
Mission accomplished, and once again cordially. The woman next to me also walked away satisfied.
“Thank you for coming in,” said the nice appraiser.
“Thank you. Let's visit again next year,” I said.
“We’ll be here,” she replied.
I got back in my lucky van that has served me so well through all these years (for a price), drove home and put away my lucky shoes.
(John looks forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at email@example.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.)