The Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act of 2019, also known as SB2 (Senate Bill 2), was recently passed, giving hope to Texans struggling under the weight of property taxes. Among the amendments included in SB2 is one that outlines the required training for arbitrators and the Comptroller’s role in their training.

What is an arbitrator?

According to the Tax Code, property owners protesting their property’s appraised value can request binding arbitration instead of filing an appeal to district court. If a property owner requests binding arbitration, his or her appeal will be heard by a neutral arbitrator. After examining the facts, the arbitrator will make a decision, which will be binding for all parties involved.

ARB Selection Process

Qualification and registry of arbitrators

Arbitrators are chosen from a registry maintained by the Comptroller. To be qualified to serve as an arbitrator and to be included in the registry, an individual must meet several requirements. According to SB2, he or she must:

  • Be a licensed attorney in the state
  • Have completed a minimum of 30 hours of arbitration training from a college, university, or real estate or legal trade association
  • Have been certified or licensed continuously in the five years before the date on which the individual agrees to become an arbitrator as a real estate broker, real estate sales agent, real estate appraiser, or certified public accountant

In addition, the arbitrator must agree that he or she will conduct an arbitration for a certain fee. The fees an arbitrator is allowed to charge are outlined in the Tax Code.

Before an arbitrator can conduct an arbitration hearing, he or she must undergo training in property tax law. The training program must be at least four hours long, include the requirements needed in the proper appraisal of property, and be approved by the Comptroller.

Appointing an arbitrator

To be appointed, an arbitrator must reside in the county where the property being discussed in the appeal is located. If there are no available arbitrators residing in the county, the Comptroller may appoint an arbitrator residing elsewhere in the state.

The Comptroller can opt not to appoint an arbitrator if he or she has received information or evidence showing repeated misconduct or bias by the individual while serving as an arbitrator.

    • An individual cannot be appointed to serve as an arbitrator if he or she has, at any point in the preceding five years,
    • Worked for the appraisal district in which the appeal was filed
    • Served as a member of the Appraisal Review Board for the appraisal district in which the appeal was filed

Represented an individual in a proceeding in the appraisal district in which the appeal was filed

Role of the Comptroller in arbitrator training

The Comptroller is in charge of establishing and supervising a training program for arbitrators. He or she will approve the curricula for the arbitration manual as well as for other materials used in training and educating arbitrators. He or she is also tasked with providing the materials and ensuring that they are freely available online.

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