Texas has one of the highest property tax rates in the country, but owners of rural Texas land also have options to significantly reduce those tax rates, as well as make sure assessed taxes are justified. The state legislature has provided tax incentives to encourage landowners to maintain their property for open space, and more than a million Texas landowners currently claim open space exemptions. The attorneys at Braun & Gresham are not only experts and innovators in ways to utilize these tax incentives to reduce your property taxes, we also serve as your advocates when you are unfairly taxed. We know the rules and how to use them. We also make sure the taxing authorities follow those rules.
Incentives exist in the property tax code for owners of rural property that may significantly reduce your tax burden in exchange for specific land uses. Special tax appraisals exist for:
- Agricultural (Ag) use
- Wildlife management
- Timber use
- Exotic game
- Recreational, park or scenic use (of private land)
- Charitable exemptions
- Endangered species
Braun & Gresham will thoroughly asses your specific situation and goals, and then expertly identify options to create innovative solutions that are best for you and your land.
Even if you are already using these incentives, we can still help by making sure you were treated fairly. Without a doubt, many of our county tax appraisers and assessors are often overworked and underpaid, but there must be accountability for basic techniques and procedures utilized in appraisals. Both your special use and your market value must be correctly appraised each year, and you have the right to protest or appeal if they are not.
The Braun & Gresham Process in a Property Tax Appeal
- Review and analyze the facts and law of your situation, and advise you on the likelihood of prevailing in an appeal. This includes a strategic decision about whether to file suit simply to preserve the opportunity to negotiate a settlement. Part of the analysis is an estimate of costs.
- File suit in the appropriate court to preserve your rights.
- Advise you on hiring your own appraisal expert and other consultants to substantiate your case. We can also consult with and manage those experts.
- Negotiate with your appraisal district to try to reach a favorable settlement, without going to trial.
- Appropriately prepare the case for trial, including legal discovery and depositions, which will help with leverage in settlement negotiations.
- If no settlement is reached, we take your case to trial if you so choose.
- Ensure that the final judgment of the court is executed, or we appeal an unfavorable ruling if you so choose.
- Advise you on strategies for avoiding future conflicts with your appraisal district
Property Tax Success Stories
When Richard Garriott, a god among video gamers, the world’s first second-generation space traveler and sixth private astronaut, and lifelong environmental advocate, bought some beautiful, wild Central Texas land, he knew he wanted to do more to protect the property than simply let it be. Learn how the Braun & Gresham, PLLC EcoLab program brought both ecological research and tax benefits together not only for Garriott, but for the good of Texas. *(This story also falls under EcoLab).
Brian and Kate Buck respect the land and play by the rules. Working with Plateau biologists, they carefully manage their property near Austin in ways that sustain native flora and fauna, including a unique Hill Country bird, the golden-cheeked warbler. Their management practices fulfilled all the requirements to qualify for a wildlife management appraisal, but the Travis County Appraisal District denied their application. The Bucks enlisted Braun & Gresham, PLLC and took their case to court – and won. Click here for the full story on how their legal victory was not only validation for the Bucks, but also for the core principles of the wildlife appraisal allowance in the Texas Tax Code. *(This story also falls under Litigation).