State law requires county appraisal districts to notify property owners about changes in their property's value.  On May 12th, Gaines County Appraisal District mailed all property owners notice’s showing their 2014 proposed value.  

Gayla Harridge, Chief Appraiser of the district, reminds property owners that the notice of appraised value is not a tax bill.  "Please do not pay--this is not a tax bill," Harridge said.

Harridge emphasized the importance of the notice and the key information that it contains.

"A property owner has the right to appeal to the Gaines County Appraisal Review Board on any disagreement with the property's value, exemptions, ownership, and other areas," she said. 

The appraisal review board, more commonly called the "ARB," is an independent panel of citizens responsible for hearing and settling protests from property owners who disagree with some actions by the appraisal district.  The notice includes instructions on how and when to file a protest and a protest form.

What should a property owner look for on the notice?  "Look at the proposed value for 2014," Harridge said.  "The notice shows the land's value and any improvement value for the property for the current year."  An improvement is a building, structure, fence, or any other type of fixture to the land.  The appraisal notice also includes current year information on exemptions granted on the property.  It provides last year's value, too.

Homeowners that qualify for property tax homestead exemptions have a limitation on their homes' appraised value, beginning with the second year that they qualify their home for homestead exemptions.  The appraisal district may not increase their home value by more than 10 percent from the date of last appraisal, plus the value of any new improvements.  A homeowner's reappraisal notice shows both the market value for the home and the limited home value.  The property notices will also include "estimated" taxes.  These "estimated" taxes are based on the new taxable value and estimated tax rates if the taxing units set tax rates for the amount of operating dollars as last year.  Generally, taxing units set final tax rates in August or September.  Final tax amounts may vary from these "estimated" amounts. 

Harridge asks property owners to look carefully at the legal description and mailing address to be sure that there are no mistakes.  "If the notice contains an old address, please let the appraisal district know.  The post office forwards mail to a new address for a short time only, and tax bills do not go out until October," Harridge added.  A property owner is responsible for informing the appraisal district of the correct mailing address.  A property owner is liable for additional penalties and interest on a tax bill that is not paid on time.

Property owners are encouraged to contact the appraisal district with any questions.  Harridge added, "If you did not get a notice and want 2014 information about your property, please contact the appraisal district staff at 302 S.E. Avenue B, 432-758-3263. 

The general deadline for protesting to the ARB this year is June 12th for Real Estate properties;  

June 25th for Mineral and June 26th for Industrial properties.  

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs’ publication, Property Taxpayer Remedies, explains in detail how to protest your property appraisal, what issues the ARB can consider and what to expect during a protest hearing.  The publication also discusses the option of taking your case to court or entering into binding arbitration if you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your ARB hearing.

Property Taxpayer Remedies is available from the Gaines County Appraisal District at 302 SE Ave B, Seminole, Texas.  The publication is also available on the Comptroller’s website at www.window.state.tx.ys/taxinfo/proptax/ or by calling the Comptroller’s Property Tax Division at (800) 252-91921 and press “2” to access the menu and then press “1” to contact the information Services Team.