Frequently Asked Questions:
2015 Market Cap Reduction Program
"The 2014 market reduction program was very successful for BTA customers compared to industry norms."
The "Taxman's" professional team has been at the appraisal districts protesting your property taxes. As you may know, property tax valuations increased throughout the Houston metro area in 2015 with Harris county continuing its recent trend of double digit increases. HCAD increased residential valuations sharply in 2015, nearly 15% on average in just one year. Almost 90% of all homes in Harris County are affected. In the commercial sector certain markets are seeing increases greater than 20% -- APARTMENTS UP 22%, RETAIL UP 21%, WAREHOUSES UP 23%, and LAND UP 23%! Valuations are continuing to go up the fastest we've ever seen!
The esteemed Ben Franklin used to say, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." BTA introduced the Market Cap Reduction Program in 2014 to offer our customers the opportunity to lower their market cap. (Market Cap = Preliminary Market Value - Preliminary Appraised Value) With values up nearly 15% on average, any reduction in market cap gives a homeowner the advantage of having a lower final value from which any potential increases may be calculated next year. A lower 2015 final value is important because the appraisal districts use mass appraisals every year to calculate property valuations in neighborhoods. When using the mass appraisal approach a standardized percentage increase is assigned to the property tax valuations of homes in a neighborhood. The more BTA's team can reduce your property valuation this year the lower your value will be next year when 2016's mass appraisal increase goes into effect and is applied to the previous year's (2015) final value.
The Market Cap Reduction Program is the ounce of prevention that Harris County homeowners need in the hot property market we are facing today. This program gives you the opportunity to lower your market cap at a very low cost of $2.50 for every $1000 reduction in market cap. (If the reduction goes below the capped amount the invoice will reflect the higher of the market cap amount or standard contingency fee.) An example of why the market cap program is so important: a large $40,000 reduction in market cap would only cost $100 this year, but without the reduction you may pay as much as $1000 more on your property tax bill every year. That is why it has been a must year to protest these ever higher market values in 2015!
Existing customers with capped accounts were given the opportunity to opt out of this program with an inactive/non-protest status, if they chose to do so prior to the 2015 hearing season.
What do you charge?
For residential protests, there is a onetime administrative fee of $75 per property. At the completion of your protest, we charge a contingency fee of 40% of your TOTAL PROPERTY TAX SAVINGS. (Total Property Tax Savings is based on the reduction in your appraised value.) For three or more properties contact the office CustomerService@btanow.com. Unlike our competitors, Bettencourt Tax Advisors does not bill you on homestead exemption amounts or frozen amounts on school or city taxes.
CAPPED ACCOUNTS - If your property's initial market value is greater than its appraised value, you will be charged the greater of the standard contingency fee or $2.50 per $1000 reduction on the initial market value.
When is the last day I can sign up for a protest?
BTA WILL BE ACCEPTING ON-LINE SIGN-UPS for Harris, Fort Bend, Galveston, and Montgomery counties UNTIL MIDNIGHT THURSDAY, MAY 28th!
SIGN-UP NOW, the protest deadline is fast approaching! Go to the Sign-Up tab above and follow the prompts.
Typically, you have 30 days from the day you receive your notice from the Appraisal District for a protest to be filed on your property appraisal, or May 31st at the county appraisal district, in general. Please sign up immediately upon receipt of your notice to ensure your protest is filed on time. You can protest accounts certified after May 31st. Call BTA for assistance.
How do I sign up to have Bettencourt Tax Advisors protest my property appraisal?
Look for the Account Sign-Up tab in the upper right hand corner of the BTA web site and follow the directions. Once you have completed the on-line portion of your sign-up an e-mail will be sent to you with documents that must be signed, dated, and returned immediately in order to complete the sign-up process. Please recognize firstname.lastname@example.org as a trusted email address in your Inbox so you will receive these documents in a timely manner.
You will receive a Property Tax Services Agreement and Appointment of Agent which are necessary in order for Bettencourt Tax Advisors, LLC to serve as your fiduciary at the county appraisal district.
A Property Condition Report (PCR) will also be included with the email. A completed PCR lets the BTA team know of any specific issues concerning your property. Be sure to include any additional documentation/evidence referenced in the PCR. The sooner you complete, sign, date and return this form the sooner we can review it to determine if additional evidence is needed to present your case at the appraisal district.
How will we communicate about information concerning my property?
You will receive e-mails from BTA about additional information that might be needed for your hearing, hearing results, and judicial appeal and arbitration deadlines.
If I hire Bettencourt Tax Advisors, what does BTA do for me?
BTA will file your protest for you, and then represent you at the informal hearing, the formal hearing, and the judicial appeal should you choose to litigate.
If there was an over 65 exemption on my property when I took ownership can I keep the exemption?
The county has the right to back charge taxes plus interest for up to five years, if they discover that an over 65 exemption no longer applies to a property.
When and how do I claim my homestead exemption?
When you bought your house you probably signed or received a homestead exemption form when you were at the title company signing documents for the closing. If for some reason a form was never sent to your local appraisal district, BTA can help you file your homestead exemption form.
Is there a deadline to file my homestead exemption?
You have until January 31st of the year after your taxes are due. (i.e. If your taxes were due in 2011 you have until January 31, 2013 to file your exemption.) Pay your taxes as billed and on time. The county will refund the difference once your homestead exemption is approved.
What do I do if the county has incorrect information on record for my property?
Call BTA. We will work with the Appraisal District to rectify any incorrect information shown on your property record. This would be done while protesting your property value and could contribute to lowering the appraised value on your property.
If you need additional information, please call BTA at (713)263-6100, or e-mail us at email@example.com.