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ARB Members must Perform their Duties Without Bias or Prejudice

The Tax Code has required that appraisal review board members swear an oath to God to follow the Tax Code. Nonetheless, the reality is that the appraisal districts pay the appraisal review board members. Further, rightly or wrongly, many appraisal review board members believe that if they do not vote in a manner favorable to the appraisal district that: 1) they are less likely to be given additional two year terms and 2) will be assigned less days of work.

The bias of appraisal review board members is systemic and exists at virtually every appraisal district. It has been suggested that since they see the appraisal district’s evidence format for every hearing they become accustomed to it and trust it. It has also be suggested that since the property owner or their consultant is attempting to reduce the tax assessment, that they will act dishonorably, doing anything to obtain a reduction.

It is somewhat understandable that the appraisal review board members might become accustomed to a format of evidence. However, O’Connor & Associates crushed this assumption in 2013 when it documented the Harris County Appraisal District evidence was not accurate or reliable. We presented evidence on thousands of the sales used by Harris County Appraisal District at appraisal review board hearings. O’Connor & Associates documented with photographs and text from the Multiple Listing Service (aka MLS) that comparable sales were in much better shape than indicated by Harris County Appraisal District.

Incredibly, the appraisal review board members took the position that before they would consider the errors in Harris County Appraisal District’s evidence, we had to prove that Harris County Appraisal District’s evidence was correct for the subject property!

This is incredible. The Tax Code is clear that unless the appraisal district proves their position by a preponderance of the evidence presented at the hearing that the appraisal review board shall rule in favor of the taxpayer.

The bias of the appraisal review board is shocking and clear to anyone who observes more than a few hearings. Hopefully this statute will make a difference.

Blog Author

Patrick O’Connor, MAI, Owner and President
Patrick O’Connor has been active in reducing property taxes, providing expert witness testimony and appraising commercial real estate property since 1983. Pat is active in publishing analyses and data with respect to the real estate market, while being a highly regarded media spokesperson for the real estate community. He holds a MAI, the highest achievable designation from the Appraisal Institute, and is a licensed senior property tax consultant. Pat earned a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University. In 2001, he authored the first definitive consumer guide to Texas property taxes, Cut Your Texas Property Taxes.

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