House Bill 585 is the most significant change in Texas Tax Code for about 10 years. In includes a variety of changes that are favorable to property owners and attempts to install mechanisms make the appraisal review board process impartial.

In the recent past, many appraisal review board members seem to be more concerned with satisfying the appraisal district, to make sure that they are reappointed and assigned to work a large number of days. In counties with population of at least 120,000, the district court administrative law judge is now responsible for selecting the appraisal review board members. He can also appoint appraisal review board commissioners to select the appraisal review board members. Judge Ken Wise in Harris County selected appraisal review board commissioners to select the appraisal review board members for Harris County Appraisal Review Board in 2013. There is hope that these impartial citizens were able to select impartial citizens, rather than those most likely to vote in favor of the appraisal district.

There are also numerous other changes relating to the standard of evidence, scheduling and rescheduling hearings, random assignments to appraisal review board panels, an expanded role for the taxpayer liaison officer for counties with at least 120,000, training of appraisal review board members and the ability to terminate an appraisal review board member for cause.

Additional changes address limited wait times for individual property owners at hearings, requiring appraisal review board members to deliberate orally, requiring the appraisal review board to hand out a survey form at the end of each hearing, the Texas Comptroller issuing an annual evaluation for the appraisal review board in each county, and rules that elaborate on the requirements to allow the property owner to cross examine the appraisal district.

This is the first of a series of 21 summaries of 2013 changes in the Texas Tax Code regarding property taxes.