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FAQ2024-01-30T23:07:34+00:00

FAQ

Most Common Questions

Why should I hire a tax consultant to fight my property taxes?2023-10-24T20:51:01+00:00

For the same reason you hire an attorney to represent you in court or a CPA to help you with your income taxes, you should hire a property tax consultant to protest your property taxes.  Our team of experts have intimate knowledge of property valuation methods, local tax laws, and appraisal district procedures.  Since our compensation is based on our performance, we are motivated to do the best job possible year after year!

How is Gill, Denson & Company different than its competitors?2023-10-24T20:49:47+00:00

We are a boutique property tax firm that spends more time and resources per client than our competitors. Our goal is to build a relationship with our client, so we can best serve them. In addition, we employ a custom tailored strategy to help lower your property taxes, rather than using a mass appeal approach like many other companies. We are not interested in accepting a minimal reduction like many companies do; our team’s primary mission is to accomplish the best reduction possible.

In which counties do you offer your services?2023-03-08T18:43:35+00:00

We offer our property tax protest services to commercial & residential properties in all 254 Texas counties. This means you can work with one company for all your Texas properties. Our experienced team maintains close relationships with local appraisal offices. We also understand the local market dynamics that influence your property tax appraisal, enabling our tax consultants to provide the best arguments to help lower your taxes.

How much does your service cost?2023-03-08T18:44:34+00:00

We are paid based on performance, so our interests are aligned with our clients. We charge clients a contingency fee, which is a percentage of the property taxes we actually saved them from our property tax protest process. If we don’t actually save you money, our contingency fee is zero. This means our team is motivated to work as hard as possible to maximize your savings.

For clients with only one residential property, we charge an upfront non-refundable minimum fee that is applied toward the final contingency fee invoice.

For more details, visit our transparent pricing page on our website.

Can I see examples of your recent work?2023-03-08T18:44:53+00:00

Absolutely!  We take pride in our work and would love to show you some recent examples of our work.  Please visit the case studies page on our website.

What are my odds of successfully reducing my taxes if I sign up?2023-03-08T18:45:25+00:00

We had an 83% success rate of obtaining a reduction for our clients during the 2022 property tax protest season. While we cannot guarantee reduction results, we can share important average statistics from our past work. You can check out our residential, commercial, case studies and blog to view more detailed statistics.

We advise you to be cautious with property tax protest providers that calculate estimated savings instantly or give you an estimate before actually researching your property. We view your property as more than another input into a mass algorithm. The reason you have to appeal your taxes in the first place is due to errors in mass algorithms. We are interested in carefully uncovering all the relevant details about your property to build a strong case to present to the appraisal district, which takes more time than an initial consultation.

How do I sign up?2023-03-08T18:45:38+00:00

Signing up with us typically only takes a few minutes!  You can sign up online via the get started page on our website.

Property Value Questions

My property is already valued much lower than I know I could sell it for, why should I protest?2023-03-08T18:47:24+00:00

We are often able to find property tax reduction opportunities even when a property is already valued much lower than its potential sales price. This is because there are multiple strategies for protesting, including finding inequalities in how you are being taxed versus other similar properties in your area. We were able to reduce the property taxes for 83% of our clients in 2022, which means we are highly effective at finding savings opportunities!

Why is my “market value” more than my assessed value?2023-03-08T18:47:51+00:00

The appraisal district uses a mass appraisal system to generate a market value (sometimes also referred to as the appraised value) for every property in the district. The assessed value includes any exemptions subtracted from your market value. The most common exemption for residential property owners is the homestead exemption. As a property owner, you pay taxes based on your assessed value.

How does the appraisal district determine my property’s value?2023-03-08T18:48:03+00:00

The appraisal district uses a mass appraisal system to generate a value for your property.  This means they use a large database that often contains inaccurate or outdated information about your property to determine a value.  Generally, no one from the appraisal district actually reviews your individual property.  The mass appraisal process often leaves plenty of room for us to lower your property taxes.

Why is my property valued more than my neighbor’s?2023-03-08T18:48:23+00:00

If your property is valued for more than other similar neighboring properties, there are likely certain data points in the appraisal districts database that are causing your property to be valued for more than other similar properties.  After we file your protest, we have access to the detailed report showing their calculations.  In this report, there are often inaccurate or outdated details.  We review the appraisal districts report and correct discrepancies that help lower your property tax bill. Even if your property is valued for less than your neighbors, we are often able to uncover savings opportunities!

Is it possible for my property value to go up because of a protest?2023-03-08T18:48:37+00:00

It is not possible for a property value to increase during our informal negotiations.  While it is technically possible for the value to increase using the formal ARB hearing, it is extremely unlikely.  Out of the thousands of formal ARB hearings we have attended as a company, we have never seen a property value increase.

Can you provide me an estimate of how much you can save me?2023-03-08T18:48:53+00:00

It is impossible to provide a savings estimate until we pull the evidence file from the appraisal district and perform diligent research on your property.  If other websites or consultants try to provide you an estimate, it is likely an inaccurate guess at best.  While we cannot guarantee reduction results, we can share important average statistics from our past work. You can check out our residential, commercial, case studies and blog to view more detailed statistics.

Property Tax Protest Questions

When is the deadline to file a protest?2023-03-08T18:49:17+00:00

The deadline to file a protest is May 15th, or 30 days after the Notice of Appraised Value is issued, whichever is later. Additionally, if May 15th falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline is pushed to the next business day. It is best to sign up with us as early as possible so we can get a headstart on filing your protest.

Once the protest deadline passes, is there anything I can do as a property owner?2023-03-08T18:49:45+00:00

There are few instances when property owners can file late protests, but please note the likelihood of success is reserved for unique situations and is not common. You can file a late protest based on a substantial overvaluation of your property. This is referred to as a 25.25d protest and you will need to prove that your property has been at least one-third over-appraised for the hearing to be granted at all. For example, if your property is appraised at $4,000,000 then you will need to prove that the value is under $3,000,000 to obtain any reduction. This protest must be filed by December 31st of the current tax year, your taxes must be paid on-time and you must have not completed a protest for the same year already. Substantial errors most commonly occur with certain unique properties, or properties impacted by natural disasters.

For residential homesteads, a property can establish a case for 25.25d as long as it is one-fourth over appraised.

You can also re-open the appraisal roll for up to four tax years in the past in order to correct a clerical error on your property, which is called a 25.25c protest. For example, this can be used for miscalculations or issues with exemptions. A 25.25c cannot be filed to address disagreement on the opinion of value.

I missed the May 15th tax protest deadline, can I still hire you?2023-03-08T18:50:01+00:00

If you missed your protest deadline, we can file a 25.25 late protest on a case-by-case basis. It is important to us that you understand the expectations of a correctional, late protest. Please contact us to learn more.

If your notice of appraisal is dated later than April 18th, meaning your tax filing deadline is later than May 15th, we can still onboard you for the current tax year on a case-by-case basis.

Will someone from Gill, Denson & Company come out to inspect my property?2023-03-08T18:51:06+00:00

We will ask you several specific questions about your property on our property questionnaire, but it is unlikely we will need to visit your property.  The property questionnaire allows us to get to know your property’s condition.  Our best work is done through data research and due diligence performed using our proprietary technology.

I already filed my protest, can I still hire you?2023-03-08T18:51:18+00:00

Unfortunately, we are unable to accept you as a new client for the current tax year if you have already filed your protest. We get the best reduction results when we file the protest and handle the entire process.  Please reach out to us next year!

Can I attend the hearing?2023-03-08T18:51:35+00:00

Our licensed property tax consultants have attended thousands of hearings.  They are experts at getting the best results for our clients. Sometimes clients accidentally introduce new evidence that hurts our case.  It is best if our consultants work directly with the appraisal district without interference.

Do you file a protest for all of the properties in my account every year?2023-03-08T18:51:58+00:00

Yes, we will file a protest for every one of your properties every year, unless you instruct us otherwise. There is virtually no downside and only benefit to you by us doing this.  Our process is to file a protest, perform all research, request county evidence and then negotiate informally with the appraisal district. If we determine that you have a weak case or no reduction is possible after attempting to lower the value informally, we retain the right to withdraw the protest prior to the ARB formal hearing or agree to a no-change in value. We may also preserve your arbitration and judicial appeal rights in certain no-change circumstances.

Since we protest every property, we include properties that have no-change cases in our statistic that refers to 83% of our clients obtaining a reduction. Other property tax companies have different methods in which they hold back filing client protests at their discretion.

How do I provide you with documentation about my property’s condition?2023-03-08T18:52:10+00:00

After you sign up with us, we will send you a link to a property questionnaire.  We will ask you to send us any documentation you have that could help us argue for a lower value for your property.

If I have a recent appraisal of my property, will that help?2023-03-08T18:52:33+00:00

Absolutely! If the appraisal was completed within the last 24 months, it can be very helpful for us.  Please be sure to upload this on the property questionnaire we send to you after signing up with us.

If I recently purchased my property, does it help to provide you my sales price?2023-03-08T18:52:52+00:00

Yes. Even if you purchased the property for more than it was appraised for, it is important for us to know the sales price.  We handle your purchase documents with fiduciary care, so we will only disclose the sales price in the hearing if it helps lower your property taxes, and if no other methods to achieve a stronger reduction exist.

Do large repairs and deferred maintenance factor into my protest?2023-03-08T18:53:15+00:00

Most of the time, yes! We can build the strongest case if you have recent documentation of your deferred maintenance. It is most important to document problems with big ticket items such as the roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical, A/C and others. When you work with our team, we make it easy for you to send us photos, documents and all relevant info securely and electronically.

When do I get the results of my hearing?2023-03-08T18:53:34+00:00

We typically finish hearings in the late summer and fall months.  Occasionally hearings can last throughout the winter months as well. We do not have much control over timing, since the appraisal district assigns our hearing dates.

What if I do not like the hearing results?2023-03-08T18:53:51+00:00

Typically hearing results are final.  Our experts do their best to ensure you get the best value possible.  While it is rare, the appraisal district sometimes has strong evidence that is hard for us to refute.  If you believe something important was overlooked, please reach out to our team.

Pricing & Billing Questions

How is my contingency fee calculated?2023-03-08T19:02:03+00:00

Our contingency fee is based on how much we save you on your tax bill.  If your contingency fee rate with us is 40%, we will charge you 40% of whatever we actually save you.  You get to keep the rest!  If you paid a minimum fee upfront, it will be credited towards your final contingency fee invoice.

For more details on how our fee is calculated, visit the pricing page on our website.

How are tax savings for my contingency fee invoice calculated?2023-03-08T19:02:29+00:00

Property tax savings are calculated based on the difference between the assessed value on the initial Notice of Appraised Value and the final assessed value multiplied by the latest known tax rate, as well as any tax reduction attributable to our team obtaining a missing exemption.

When do I pay you?2023-03-08T19:02:44+00:00

We will send you an invoice for our contingency fee once we are done with the property tax protest process and your final value is certified.  This is typically in the late summer or fall months.  Our contingency fee is based on how much we are able to save you on your tax bill.  If we do not save you anything, the contingency fee is zero.  If you paid a minimum upfront fee when signing up with us, this will be credited to your final invoice.

If you have multiple properties, we still send results as soon as they are certified, so that you can stay updated.  If you have multiple properties, we send summarized reports once your portfolio is completed towards the end of the year, or upon your request.

How is my tax rate calculated?2023-03-08T19:03:05+00:00

The county tax office collects taxes in one bill for all the local jurisdictions, including the school district, fire department and other local entities. Some tax bills also include special taxing jurisdictions such as a MUD.

Most effective property tax rates in Texas are between 1.5% and 3.5%. Most of the time, when we send our invoice in the summer or fall of the current tax year, the currently known tax rate is the previous year’s tax rate.

We cannot protest your tax rate, unfortunately. This is set by voters, specific budgets and local entities. We use official data in our tax rate calculation that can be verified by the county tax collector’s office.

How do I renew my service agreement with you next year?2023-03-08T19:03:22+00:00

Our service agreements automatically renew, so there is no action needed!

Each year our service agreement auto-renews on March 1st. We set this date so that we can prepare for informal settlement hearings with appraisal districts, which begin in April. Furthermore, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes paperwork preparation we perform ahead of the protest season.

If your account includes a minimum upfront fee, this must be paid each year for us to continue with your appeal. We never auto-charge your card upon auto-renewal.

Does my previous year’s appraised value factor into your contingency fee invoice?2023-03-08T19:03:41+00:00

No! We protest the current year market value. In April of each year, the appraisal district releases their Notice of Appraised Value. This will include their proposed market value that your tax bill will be based on, and the value we are focused on reducing. Our bill is based on any value reduction we achieve on the current year notice of appraisal value.  In summary, we are only charging you a contingency fee based on savings we deliver to you in the current tax year.

Do you offer contingency fee discounts?2023-03-08T19:04:04+00:00

If you sign up 2 or more properties with us, we waive your upfront minimum fee and only work on a performance based contingency fee. We offer tiered contingency fees based on the number and type of properties you have. We transparently display our pricing on our pricing page.

If you reduce my assessed value from $500,000 to $450,000, are you charging me 40% of $50,000?2023-03-08T19:04:23+00:00

No! Our contingency fee is based on your actual tax savings, not the reduction in assessed value.  To calculate your tax savings, we multiply your last known tax rate by the reduction in assessed value. Tax rates average about 2.5% in Texas; therefore, assuming a 2.5% tax rate on a $50,000 reduction, your tax savings would be $1,250. We then charge 40% (or less if you have multiple properties) of the $1,250 in savings for a total contingency fee of $500. You would keep the remaining $750 of savings.

How does my mortgage lender know my tax bill has changed?2023-03-08T19:04:37+00:00

Most lenders have a department dedicated to checking certified tax values many times per year. When we achieve a reduction, our values are certified and then publicly available on your local appraisal district website. Most lenders automatically collect this information, and adjust your monthly escrow amount.

If your lender is slow to adjust or if you need assistance, please contact our team and we can easily provide you with certified documents to share with your lender to expedite the process.

For property owners who pay a lump sum property tax payment at the end of each tax year, the monthly escrow does not apply to you!

How does your $149 minimum fee work?2023-03-08T19:05:00+00:00

We charge $149 upfront, as a minimum fee to clients who sign up for only one residential property.  This $149 fee covers our firm’s cost to perform the following:

  1. Properly and timely file your protest by May 15th
  2. Perform industry leading analysis and research to prepare for negotiations and hearings
  3. Request county appraisal evidence
  4. Negotiate with your county appraisal district during informal hearings
  5. If applicable, schedule and attend formal ARB hearings on your behalf
  6. Certify final value results with the appraisal district

We cannot guarantee results in any tax appeal, so we charge a performance fee based on your tax bill savings once we complete your protest. This performance fee, also called a contingency fee, is 40% of anything we save on your tax bill. We then credit your $149 upfront fee to any final contingency fee invoice.

If for some reason we are not successful in our protest efforts, the $149 minimum fee is not refundable. Remember, we charge a performance fee to align with your interests to reduce your value as much as possible.

I am having trouble calculating the $149 minimum fee and the contingency fee, can you please give me an example?2023-03-08T19:05:25+00:00

Sure, let’s look at a couple of example scenarios!

Example 1: The county appraisal district provides the notice of appraisal value in April of the current tax year for your investment rental home. The initial market and assessed value they are proposing in the notice is $550,000.

Our team completes the protest process and reduces the property value to $500,000. To determine your tax savings, we multiply this $50,000 reduction in appraised value by your currently known tax rate. For example, if your tax rate is 2%, your tax savings would be $1,000.

Once this final value is certified, we will send you a final invoice for 40% of $1,000 minus the $149 you paid upfront. So, your final invoice is $249. You seamlessly net an estimated $600 in tax savings on your bill that you receive in November from the County Tax Office!

Example 2: The county appraisal district provides a notice of appraisal in April of the current tax year for your primary homestead exempt home. The initial market value is $550,000 but your assessed value that you are paying taxes on is $450,000. The reason for the difference in market vs. assessed values is due to the benefits of your homestead exemption, which prevents your assessed value from increasing more than 10% year to year. This difference in values happens when the real estate market is strong, like in 2021 and 2022 in Texas. The county appraisal district’s job is to apply a market value to every property. Exemptions are then applied to the market values based on your personal exemption situation (homestead, over 65, veteran, disabled, AG/wildlife, etc). Our job is to try and reduce the market value, regardless of your exemption situation (by the way, we help with exemptions too).

Our team performs the same protest process as Example 1, and we reduce the market value to $500,000. This is a market value reduction only and does not impact your current year tax bill, since you are still paying taxes on $450,000. However, it is important to look forward since your taxes will automatically increase 10% every year until the assessed value catches up to the market value.

Although we helped reduce future tax liability, we only charge our contingency fee for current year tax savings. Therefore, we do not charge a 40% contingency fee whatsoever in Example 2. The cost of the market-only reduction is covered by our $149 minimum fee, and you will not receive a final invoice.

How do I cancel your service?2023-03-08T19:06:06+00:00

If you would like to cancel, please email us at support@gilldenson.com.

Exemption Questions

What is a homestead exemption?2023-03-08T18:54:51+00:00

As a Texas homeowner, you can save thousands of dollars on your property taxes by taking advantage of the homestead exemption. An exemption removes part of the value of your property from taxation and lowers your taxes. For example, if your home is valued at $100,000 and you qualify for a $25,000 exemption, you pay taxes on your home as if it was worth just $75,000.

A homestead is a general exemption intended for Texas homeowners whose property is considered their primary residence. An applicant is required to state that he/she does not claim an exemption on another residence homestead inside or outside of Texas.

The homestead cap is an extra benefit of the general homestead exemption. The “cap” limits increases in the assessed values of homestead properties. The homestead cap applies to your homestead the second year that you have a homestead exemption. If you qualify, your assessed value (which is used to calculate your tax bill) cannot exceed the lesser of: the current year’s market value or last year’s assessed value plus 10% (plus the value of any improvements made the preceding year).

When does my homestead exemption “cap” kick in?2023-03-08T18:55:14+00:00

The best benefit of a homestead exemption for most property owners is the protection from their assessed value increasing more than 10% in a given year. Once you own and prove residency in a home for at least one year on January 1st of the given tax year, your homestead exemption cap will be in effect.

Let’s take a look at an example: John buys his primary home in June 2023. At the time of purchase, his market and assessed values are $450,000. He applies and is approved for his homestead exemption immediately in June 2023. In April of 2024, John received his Notice of Appraisal from the county, and his market and assessed values are $600,000. John is curious why his assessed value increased much more than 10% from the previous year even though he had his homestead exemption approved. This is because taxes are assessed on January 1st, 2024, and John was not the resident owner of the property one year prior on January 1st, 2023. John must continue waiting until 2025 for his homestead cap to kick in. We recommend going ahead and protesting during this critical 2024 “waiting period” to establish the best possible baseline value ahead of 2025.

It is a common misconception that your homestead exemption cap starts right away. With recent changes to property tax law, you can now apply and receive your homestead exemption at any time during the year and benefit from the school tax and other jurisdiction credits. However, the cap protection has a required waiting period. Many homeowners’ taxes increase significantly during this waiting period, due to the reset of the previous homeowners’ exemptions.

How do I file for a homestead exemption?2023-03-08T18:55:31+00:00

To file for a homestead exemption, you will need to submit an application along with the required documentation to your local appraisal district. You will need a Texas drivers license or state issued ID that matches the address of the property. The completed application is due no later than April 30th of the tax year for which you’re applying. A late residence homestead exemption application, however, may be filed up to two years after the delinquency or purchase date.

For more detailed info from our team on how to file your homestead, visit our blog.

Residential property market values can only increase so much in a given year, right?2023-11-20T22:00:16+00:00

Incorrect. Market values for any property regardless of exemptions can increase any amount.  While the market value can be a higher value than the assessed value (which is used to calculate your tax bill) for a homestead exempt property, the market value for your property is important in the long run.  Residential homes with a homestead exemption are capped to a 10% annual assessed value increase.  Eventually your assessed value will “catch-up” to the property’s market value after a few years of maximum capped assessed value increases.  Non-homestead residential property appraisals can increase any amount in a given year. A property owner can only have one homestead exemption. For more information about homestead exemptions, click here.

Judicial Appeal Questions

What is the difference between Binding Arbitration vs. Judicial Appeal?2023-03-08T18:57:06+00:00

After we represent a property owner at the appraisal district for the first two stages of an appeal (the informal and formal ARB hearing) we occasionally recommend continuing the appeal in one of two ways: binding arbitration or judicial appeal.

Binding arbitration is permitted for residential or commercial properties up to $5,000,000 in value. Filing fees are typically around $500-$2,000 and could be refundable depending on the results of the arbitration.

A judicial appeal, also referred to as litigation, requires a filing fee of about $400-600 and our attorney is involved in the legal filing process. The filing fee is non-refundable.

In both stages, our team continues to manage the appeal process in the same way as the first two stages. The only difference is, if we recommend one of the two advanced stages of appeal, you will be required to pay the filing fee to the county to initiate the process. We continue to work on a contingency, performance-based fee. Typically, our contingency fee increases 10 percentage points for the reduction that is achieved in Binding Arbitration or Judicial appeal due to the increased timeline and workload. It is common to have a reduction achieved in a formal hearing and then another reduction in Binding Arbitration/Judicial Appeal.

Do you help with Judicial Appeal/Litigation and what does that process entail?2023-03-08T18:57:56+00:00

Yes. When we recommend Judicial Appeal to a client, we are confident in our ability to reduce an appraised value further than what was achieved in the informal or formal ARB hearing. We do not recommend Judicial appeal without strong evidence given the additional cost and workload.

The timeline and procedures are very important on our end when proceeding with Judicial Appeal. In order to file litigation in District Court we must first attend an ARB formal hearing, receive the paperwork showing the results from the ARB, and then file suit within 60 days of receiving that paperwork. Litigation is generally reserved for properties in excess of $5 million and the value discrepancy is more than $100,000. However, in some counties in which we do not strategically see Binding Arbitration as the best option, we may recommend litigation for properties above $500,000. We are always thinking of the economic benefit for the client, calculating the realistic savings in taxes along with the filing fee hard cost.

We do not proceed to binding arbitration or judicial appeal without client consent and payment for the filing fee. We communicate clear next steps, our opinion of value and timeline requirements for binding arbitration and judicial appeal opportunities.

Business Personal Property (BPP) & Inventory Questions

What is a business personal property rendition?2023-03-08T18:58:24+00:00

A rendition is an official form businesses use to report their taxable assets. For taxation purposes, your property is classified as either real property (land, buildings, and other items attached to land) or personal property (items that can be owned but are not attached to land). Personal property that you use to produce income is subject to taxation in the state of Texas.

Why should I hire a firm to file my BPP renditions?2023-03-08T18:59:04+00:00

Hire a property tax consultant for the same reason you would hire an accountant or lawyer; to have a professional to take care of a specialized task for your business. Our team makes the process seamless and convenient for you and your team.

Do you also appeal BPP values once the rendition is filed?2023-03-08T18:59:20+00:00

Absolutely! We may file an appeal on BPP if the notified value does not coincide with the rendered value. We charge a separate fee for appeals based on a small percentage of the savings only if and when we are successful. We will contact you if an appeal is applicable to your BPP file.

What information is required to submit when filing renditions?2023-03-08T18:59:40+00:00

Typically, we need an asset listing and/or inventory held for sale.

When is the BPP filing deadline?2023-03-08T19:00:05+00:00

In Texas the BPP filing deadline is April 15th. If you have property in other states, contact us for a free consultation. This is a separate deadline from the appeal deadline.

When should I start my BPP rendition filing?2023-03-08T19:00:18+00:00

As soon as possible in the new year each year! We highly recommend starting in January to avoid late fees.

Are BPP filings required each year for businesses?2023-03-08T19:00:37+00:00

Yes, a failure to file timely will add a 10% penalty to your tax bill.

What if my business was sold or closed?2023-03-08T19:01:01+00:00

It is important to report this information to the appraisal district to avoid future tax bills. We can assist you with the official communication of this process with the appraisal district.

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