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Hiring A Litigator As Your Property Tax Consultant

A well researched, informed and persuasive appeal can slash your property tax bill. Make sure your representative knows and understands the process, the facts, and the law. You want the decision makers to trust us and our judgment about the appeal.

The most prepared with the knowledge of the facts and the law win cases. Period. We are trained with this mentality.  We convey this through our actions, words, legal argument, and appearance.

Advantages

The traditional approach is akin to the Texas Two-Step. The initial step in protesting property taxes is to hire a property tax consulting company to initially protest your property taxes.  If you are not satisfied with the result, you must then engage a law firm to file an appeal of the decision in the District Court. You must then get the evidence and documents from the property tax consulting firm and bring them to the law firm. You then need to explain everything again to the law firm to get them caught up to speed.  You only have 60 days to get the law firm to file suit after you get the Formal Order of the Board’s decision. A lot of things can get lost in the shuffle during this critical time period. If they do not file suit in time, your case will be dismissed and you lose your right to appeal.

The appeal process is the chance to make an actual difference in result. As effective advocates, we know our purpose is to educate and persuade those who actually decide the appeal.

PropertyTaxes.Law solves all of these issues and charges you less to do it. First, we are lawyers and we have the ability to keep fighting for you all the way through trial. We are already knowledgeable about the facts because we fought your initial protest. You do not have to reteach us anything. You do not have to worry about missing deadlines to file suit because we already take care of this for you. Most importantly, as lawyers we are prevented from charging you an unconscionable fee for legal services. We believe that 50% of your tax savings is way too much for a lawyer’s legal services to aggressively appeal in the District Court, let alone 50% to just locate a lawyer.

The Texas Property Tax Code is filled with nuanced provisions, technicalities and ambiguities which need clarification by challenge. There are many provisions contained within it that may be extremely beneficial to you.  You need someone proficient in the law to be able to advise you on which provisions may be available to you depending upon your intentions, operations, and development of your property. For example, some properties qualify for Recreational Use Exemptions, Real Estate Inventory, Affordable Housing exemptions and many others. If you don’t have someone extremely familiar with the Code, you could be missing out on an extreme amount of tax savings.

We only use well-trained lawyers to represent you, who have substantial courtroom experience. We speak with conviction. We know going into a hearing what we want, and express it clearly and succinctly. A hearing in front of an Appraisal Review Board is a walk in the park compared to the high stakes litigation we are accustomed to.

Credibility is immediately lost when someone shows up to represent you in jeans and a t-shirt.

Some property tax consultant firms are so big that some of their agents have little to no practical experience. You should know the qualifications of the person that actually protests your taxes, not just the qualifications of the company you hire.

Sometimes the traditional approach comes with a catch. The agreement you sign to allow the property tax consulting company contains a provision in it which allows that company to file suit on your behalf through a lawyer that you do not know. In exchange for them giving your case to an unknown lawyer, you agree to give the property tax consulting company 50% of any tax savings achieved in the lawsuit!  It does not make sense to pay someone half of your tax savings in exchange for finding you a lawyer to file suit. Most importantly, the lawyer the property tax consulting company finds for you is prevented from sharing the contingency fee with the company. Most of the lawyers who are hired by these companies work for the company on a flat rate for each property. These lawyers have no incentive to aggressively fight for you.  In fact, the opposite is true. Spending the least amount of time on your case as possible financially benefits them.

Your advocate should be able to adjust the arguments to the points raised by the decision maker and opposing side.  The arguments are sharply focused. We are trained to use a principle-based positive assertion to move into the discussion of your appeal.

We are trained to anticipate the Appraisal Review Board’s questions and the potential weaknesses in the argument.

Years of presentation experience yields the best results. The following should be used in each appeal:

  • Avoid distracting mannerisms, Be respectful, Make eye contact, Use a conversational tone and speak in short sentences, Address the decision makers, not the opposing side, Treat argument as a conversation, not a debate, Dress and act professionally
  • Use concrete examples or analogies when possible.
  • If there are important statutory provisions, cite to them
  • Make use of nonverbal communication skills.
  • Look at a decision maker’s questions as communicating to you what he or she is thinking. Try to understand each question as a concern: what is bothering them and causing him or her to ask this question?
  • Speak directly. Do not use “I think,” “I believe,” “we believe,” “we argue,” or any variation of these.
  • Phrases and terms that distance you from your own arguments detract from their strength, leave room for disagreement, and suggest even you do not truly believe what you are saying.
  • Avoid verbal ticks and “fillers.” Do not say “oh,” “um,” “uh,” or similar words
  • Never dodge or ignore questions.
  • Sarcasm or indignation should almost never be used.
  • Be professional and courteous to your opponent. Disagree with his argument; use his words against him; but don’t be petty, belittling, or unfair; don’t mischaracterize or misquote him; and, above all, do not make personal attacks.

It is cost prohibitive for some property owners to file a lawsuit because of the expenses needed to hire professional expert witnesses to testify as to the market value of your property. However, using the recent case law developments of the “Property Owner Rule,” property owners, officers, executives and those persons within companies who have personal knowledge of the value of the property can properly testify, avoiding the expert witness expenses. Brandon Barchus has successfully won in trial in the District Court using this extremely cost saving approach.