Changes needed in Texas property tax systems
John Adams wrote that we are a â€œgovernment of laws, and not of men.â€Â Yet many times when I am atÂ appraisal districts tax consultantsÂ complain to me about these “state created principalities” (appraisal districts), blatantly break the law.Â For example,Â most appraisal districts (districts)Â do notÂ recognize fair and equitable appeals informally or formally in Appraisal Review Board (ARB) hearings, even though The Texas Property Tax Code (Code) and case law gives taxpayers and their agents that right.Â Thus. taxpayers are forced to into litigating on the same properties year after year after year because they can not receive relief prior to judicial review.Â
In Bexar County taxpayers / agents have and are faced with litigation by the Chief Appraiser if he doesnâ€™t like an ARB ruling.Â I spoke to the chief appraiser about this about four years ago about this practice and he told me that he was forced to do because the Bexar County ARB was making rulings not based on the facts.Â Is that to say they are breaking the law?Â If so, why didn’t he contract the Bexar County DA’s office to solicit criminal prosecution?Â Why doesn’t he appoint new ARB members? Â Why did the the Texas legislature pass legislation to prevent him from suing his own ARB onÂ the rulings involving assessments of $1,000,000 or less?Â The legislature saw that he was inflicting an unwarranted hardship on homeowners thus they step in against him.Â What about commercial property owners?Â They continued to be sued along with the Bexar ARB.Â This is abusive behavior by the Chief Appraiser of Bexar CountyÂ needsÂ to curtail his by the legeslature.
ForÂ many yearsÂ tax consultants denied informal hearings in Travis Countybecause the former chief appraiser, Mr. Cory disliked taxpayerâ€™s representatives?Â Taxpayers wereÂ not denied these hearingÂ only tax consultants who had been hired by the property owner.Â Is this not discrimination?
The administration of the Collin Central Appraisal DistrictÂ has developed an approach to curtail the number of appeals to their Appraisal Review Borad (ARB).Â If a tax consultant does not accept an informal offer from the staff prior to the ARB, the staffÂ will request that the ARB reinstate the original proposed valuation rather than the offer they tendered after reviewing information supplied to them by the consultant.Â In-other-words, in some cases they could be recommended values to the ARB which are over market value and not fair and equitable.Â Why are they taking such a punitive approach, which surely leads to more litigation?
Legislation has been passedÂ in the past to attempt to remedy some of these points; however appraisal districts have just ignore them.Â So, what can be done?
- At the very least theÂ ARBâ€™s must be separated from the appraisal districts.Â ARB members must be appointed by personâ€™s independent of appraisal districts.Â A first step could be to separate the ARBâ€™s from the five largestÂ appraisal districts.Â I believe that would send a message to the other 199 counties.Â Â The current system is like a DA picking the judge and jury.
- We must change the Code in regards to Bexar CAD suing their own ARB and taxpayers over rulings they donâ€™t agree with.Â
- Additionally, chief appraisers serve at then pleasure of their board of directors (BOD).Â Thus they BOD’s are accountable as well.Â There must beÂ mandatory term lengths.Â They should be serious consideration to electing one BOD member.Â District BOD’s need to reign in chief appraisers who do not adhere to the Code and case law.