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Gay senior builds a career in tax protests

Keep what’s yours: Dr. Kay Van Cleave works with people to establish fair and equitable home tax rates. Photo by Brandon Wolf

Active in the community since 1959, Kay Van Cleave is still on the go

Dr. Kay Van Cleave encourages taxpayers to learn how to do their own property tax protests. “Do it yourself,” she says. “Learn a skill, and put some control back into your life.” She was at one time the only entity in Houston teaching people how to take care of their own property tax issues.

Van Cleave has been an active member of Houston’s gay community for more than 50 years. She’s been involved with the Dianas, the Lambda Center, Lesbians over Age Fifty (LOAF), and Houston Parents and Friends of Gays & Lesbians (PFLAG). Today she regularly sends out an e-mail newsletter called G-BLTS-CommUnityNews.

Van Cleve began working for the Houston Independent School District (HISD) in 1959 and retired 41 years later in 2000. At HISD, she was a teacher and then a drug counselor. During the 1980s she earned a master’s degree in education psychology and then a doctorate in holistic health science. From 2001 until 2006, she worked with Angel Flight, which helps transport emergency surgery patients. She became a member of the Harris County Appraisal Review Board in 2006 and stayed through 2009.

Last year, Van Cleave left the Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD) and decided to use her insider’s knowledge to teach people to prepare their own tax protest packets. She contracted with Leisure Learning to teach a course. “I had seen many people, especially seniors, literally crying at HCAD offices because they didn’t know how to prepare protests,” she said. “I wanted to do something to help people.”

The course has proven to be popular, providing Van Cleave with an unexpected new business. “After the classes, several people called me up and asked me to help them prepare their protest packets,” said Van Cleave. Before she knew it, she had a full client load and has now added Bill Glantzberg as an associate.

Van Cleave maintains an e-group, which grew out of the Leisure Learning classes. This online forum is composed of class participants and individuals who have contacted her for protest information. “The e-group,” said Van Cleave, “has become a community of learning as readers ask questions or tell of strategies they have learned.”

For a fee, Van Cleave will guide a taxpayer through the tax protest process with tips on how to best present their arguments before the Appraisal Review Board. She is in contact with the taxpayer from the time she is hired until after the protest, answering questions and providing followup support.

Van Cleave is available to give short talks to civic associations, or to conduct two-hour classes. She can be reached at [email protected]. —Brandon Wolf


Brandon Wolf

Brandon Wolf is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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