IMPORTANT NEWS . The Harris County Appraisal District ('HCAD") recently published the following insights into the 2023 valuation cycle. The Residential Trend Analysis analysis can be accessed below.
SPECIAL NOTICE - Property tax valuations have increased well above the appraised (capped) value by which property taxes are calculated in several areas. That said, several Property Tax Consulting firms' standard contracts provide that a fee will be owed if the market value is reduced, but NOT below the appraised or taxable value. What this means is you will be charged a fee for services EVEN where no tax relief is obtained. I disagree. I do not follow this practice since it's my opinion that the expectation of property tax representation is to reduce your property taxes, and not just the market valuation.
Areas of Representation
Property Tax Appeal
Contest appraisal valuations for property tax assessments
Seek tax relief after the general protest deadline has passed
Work to correct appraisal errors to reduce property tax liability
Seek relief for property substantially over-appraised
Challenge protest and ARB hearing dismissals, and seek relief through the administrative appeal process
Pursue judicial relief through filing a lawsuit suit once the administrative process has concluded.
Exemption Denial / Help
Assist in securing property tax exemptions on eligible property
Appeal exemption denials or modifications for the current or preceding tax year(s)
Delinquent Property Tax Representation
Serve as Counsel in delinquent tax lawsuits seeking foreclosure of real estate or recovery of delinquent taxes paid in error
Contest back taxes caused by adding taxable property previously omitted from the appraisal roll.
The following fee structure contemplates legal representation before an Appraisal Review Board or Appraisal District only. It does not and should not be inferred as a solicitation for any other purpose.
MY FEE STRUCTURE - 35% Contingency Std
COST: A contingency fee structure should meet three requirements. It should be 1) transparent, 2) clear, 3) and reasonable. For these reasons, my standard fee for legal representation in an ARB or Appraisal District matter is based on a 35% contingency fee. No additional fees are added. In my opinion, the bulk of any tax savings should stay with you, the client. It's that simple.
EXPECTATION: I believe indirect fees should be avoided. The contingency fee structure accounts for this by excluding charges for things, such as "value-added" service and maintenance fees, or minimum flat fees. Similarly, fees not directly related to reducing your overall tax liability are excluded.
PERFORMANCE: While I believe my fee structure is lower than most, this does not suggest the professional services provided are inferior. First, I strive to be proactive and review the subject property beforehand. And second, I seek to establish a long-term relationship with the client. Sticking to these principles results in a quality client base that reduces administrative costs substantially. Thus fees remain affordable, while client satisfaction remains high -- A WIN-WIN SITUATION!
One final thought. Anyone considering hiring a property tax attorney or property tax agent should compare services and fees charged. This will ensure you've done your due diligence. And while a contingency fee is the most common out there, there's always the chance it may be discounted or reduced.
Property taxation pales in comparison to the allure and intrigue found in criminal law and other, high-profile matters. And yet, it always proves gratifying to help someone surmount something that affects us all - TAXATION
My personal and professional outlook has always been that where there's a problem, no matter how daunting, there's always a solution. You just need to find it. This remains as true now as the day I received my law degree. Experience has proven positive results can be derived by adhering to certain core principles.
CLIENT RELATIONSHIP - The most important duty an attorney has to a client is the attorney-client relationship. At its core, the client's interests are to be held above the interests of the attorney. It is a standard of stringent loyalty and fairness with respect to a client. The client shall be the primary focus throughout the representation.
COMMUNICATION - Accurate information is required to make the best and most cost-effective decisions. A proactive approach, therefore, exists when it comes to communication. E-mail, phone, text messaging, are used extensively. This obviously goes both ways. Whether between a client or a third party, being prompt and responsive creates trust which is vital to resolving conflicts.
TECHNOLOGY - Innovation is the new standard when it comes to quality legal representation. Keeping technologically current reduces costs, allows quicker turn-around of client matters, and leads to significantly better results. Technology accordingly serves a key role. This includes using up-to-date computer systems, the latest peripherals, specialized legal and accounting software, a robust Document Management System (DMS), and a contact relationship management system (CRM).
EXPERIENCE - Knowledge results from experience. And while this is significant, the law is never static. Keeping abreast of recent changes and developments involving property tax issues is just as important. This includes being active in legal associations, undertaking professional courses, and continual networking with other professionals.
Location: 3816 Oberlin St. Houston, TX 77005
Tel: 713 301 6322
Michael Saegert, Atty at Law