HCAD Tax Protest Settlement Protest

HCAD TAX PROTEST SETTLEMENT PROTEST The largest property-tax consultant in the state agreed last November to an $800,000 settlement with the attorney general’s office that requires it to pay a penalty to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, restricts some of the company’s business practices, and establishes a restitution fund for clients. But the agreed judgment doesn’t require O’Connor & Associates to admit any wrongdoing. A 2-year-old lawsuit alleged that the company routinely represented thousands of taxpayers in property-tax protests without their consent, failed to appear at some clients’ appraisal hearings, submitted documents that were “fraudulently notarized,” and failed to file more than 11,000 legally required client forms to the Harris County Appraisal District. Company president Patrick O’Connor denies the charges, and tells the HBJ‘s Jennifer Dawson his company was picked on by HCAD because it is big and aggressive: “The firm filed 150,000 to 160,000 protests in 2010, at least seven times the volume of its next closest competitor, O’Connor said. ‘Yes, we do make mistakes, but the percentage is a very low percentage. . . . It’s about four per 1,000 hearings that we did.’” [Houston Business Journal; consumer alert]

7 Comment

  • They are a horribly managed firm.

  • The four per 1,000 error rate that they claim does not seem correct.
    11,000+ failures would then imply 2.75 million cases or 18 years worth of cases.
    I can’t access the full article right now, but I don’t think the lawsuit represents 18 years of work.
    So even their claimed error rate (of 0.4%) is an error.

  • They filed a protest on my house, even though they had no authorization to do so. I specifically did not sign their garbage multi-year representation agreement. They should be ashamed of their behavior… the fine should be a lot higher.

  • I had multiple problems with that place, including the same issue as Matt, twice. While they were working on my case, they wouldn’t call my cell #, the only one I gave them. They got my land line # from the phone book and would call and leave a message. Then when I called back, they couldn’t tell me what they had called about. Then, they never sent me a bill, just turned it straight over to collections.

  • I have had a positive experience with O’Connor. I have a few commercial properties, they handle the tax challenges, and have consistently done a good job. An article like this doesn’t make sense in that it makes it sound like there are a lot of problems, but doesn’t adequately answer why, if there were indeed so many issues, the AG settled with no admission of wrongdoing.

  • In my experience, innocent people routinely pay $800,000 to the State to resolve a legal dispute to avoid costly litigation. Especially when their name and reputation are on the line. Actually, that is not my experience. Also, there was an admission of wrong-doing:

    “O’Connor said. ‘Yes, we do make mistakes, but the percentage is a very low percentage. . . . It’s about four per 1,000 hearings that we did.’”


    As for “these” tax protesters, here is my experience.

    “Someone” (I don’t know who, but I have a pretty good idea which company it was) filed a tax protest on my behalf, without my authorization or permission. Please know that I did not intend nor want to protest my taxes. As a result, a file was opened on my property, in my name, and a county employee(whose salary is paid by our tax dollars) was charged to research the value of my property, create a research file, as well as a hard and electronic copy of such file, mail that information to my home address(all using tax payer funded county resources) and then schedule a hearing date (taking a spot and valuable time away from someone who actually wanted to protest their taxes). Presumably this “someone” was hoping that I would receive the file, become overwhelmed by the process and call “them,” desperate for their help. They were wrong. Instead, I was angry. Not only was a protest filed on my behalf, without my permission, the county now has my house on their radar and our tax dollars were wasted researching the value of my house and the “comps” the County found in and around my neighborhood. Moreover, think about how many hearing dates were given to people like me who did not actually file a protest… . I am not sure exactly how much county money and time was wasted, but I do know that I really did not want HCAD poking around my house and if my taxes go up next year because of this “research,” I am going to be pissed. I understand that this is “their” (again, although I don’t know, I have a pretty good idea of who it was) business model, but it is horribly inefficient, invasive and a waste of tax payer dollars.

  • I made the mistake of using them a few years ago – first they failed to represent me – “oops sorry forgot to ask you for another document”, they took the time to ask me to represent me a second year – got a big $5000 knocked off my appraisal. I represented myself the third year – got $35,000 knocked off my appraisal.

    The BBB should go after them too!