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Property Tax Fiduciary 1.11

Section 1.111 Representation of Property Owner

Property tax appeals are an effective option to reduce Texas property taxes. Many large property owners and homeowners consider an annual property tax appeal both necessary and appropriate as part of an effort to reduce property taxes.

Property owners have the right to handle their property tax protest (appeal) in Texas. While filing a protest takes only minutes, preparing for and attending the property tax appeal hearing(s) typically takes two to four hours. Even filing the protest is somewhat complicated since property owners need to “check the box” to appeal both excessive appraised (assessed value exceeds market value) and unequal appraisal.

Many commercial property owners and homeowners hire a property tax consultant due to the time, specialized knowledge and data required to protest property taxes. Some owners find the process frustrating.

Annual appeals are another benefit of engaging a property tax consultant to reduce your Texas property taxes. The pace of life has seemingly increased both at home and work. Many property owners will periodically file a property tax appeal, perhaps every three or four years. In many cases, they will also prepare for and attend the property tax hearings (informal and appraisal review board or ARB hearings). However, about one-third of all individual property owners do not appear for the property tax protest after filing an appeal.

Property tax consultants typically file “blanket appeals.” A blanket appeal is filing a property tax protest for every property every year. Through this persistent process, property tax consultants ensure an all-lawful property tax reduction opportunities are reviewed. Most property tax consulting agreements are based on a contingency fee; there is no cost to the property owner unless property taxes are reduced.

A blanket appeal and contingency fee agreement provide an excellent alignment of interest between the property tax owner and the tax consultant. The property owner has someone handling his property tax protest annually and pays no fee unless property taxes are reduced.

Texas Property Tax Code Section 1.111 allows owners of property to appoint an agent (tax consultant) to represent them.

Sec. 1.111. Representation of Property Owner.

(a) A property owner may designate a lessee or other person to act as the agent of the owner for any purpose under this title in connection with the property or the property owner.

(b) The designation of an agent must be made by written authorization signed by the owner, a property manager authorized to designate agents for the owner, or other person authorized to act on behalf of the owner, and must clearly indicate that the person is authorized to act on behalf of the property owner in property tax matters relating to the property or the property owner. The designation may authorize the agent to represent the owner in all property tax matters or in specific property tax matters as identified in the designation.

(c) The designation of an agent under this section remains in effect until revoked in a written revocation filed with the appraisal district by the property owner. A designation may be made to expire according to its own terms but is still subject to prior revocation by the property owner.

(d) A property owner may not designate more than one agent to represent the property owner in connection with an item of property. The designation of an agent in connection with an item of property revokes any previous designation of an agent in connection with that item of property.

(e) An agreement between a property owner or the owner’s agent and the chief appraiser is final if the agreement relates to a matter:

(1) which may be protested to the appraisal review board or on which a protest has been filed but not determined by the board; or

(2) which may be corrected under Section 25.25 or on which a motion for correction under that section has been filed but not determined by the board.

(f) A property owner in writing filed with the appraisal district may direct the appraisal district, appraisal review board, and each taxing unit participating in the appraisal district to deliver all notices, tax bills, orders, and other communications relating to one or more specified items of the owner’s property to a specified person instead of to the property owner. The instrument must clearly identify the person by name and give the person’s address to which all notices, tax bills, orders, and other communications are to be delivered. The property owner may but is not required to designate the person’s agent for other tax matters designated under Subsection (a) as the person to receive all notices, tax bills, orders, and other communications. The designation of an agent for other tax matters under Subsection (a) may also provide that the agent is the person to whom notices, tax bills, orders, and other communications are to be delivered under this subsection.

(g) An appraisal district, appraisal review board, or taxing unit may not require a person to designate an agent to represent the person in a property tax matter other than as provided by this section.

(h) The comptroller shall prescribe forms and adopt rules to facilitate compliance with this section. The comptroller shall include on any form used for designation of an agent for a single-family residential property in which the property owner resides the following statement in boldfaced type:

“In some cases, you may want to contact your appraisal district or other local taxing units for free information and/or forms concerning your case before designating an agent.”

(i) An appraisal review board shall accept and consider a motion or protest filed by an agent of a property owner if an agency authorization is filed at or before the hearing on the motion or protest.

Added by 1987 Tex. Laws, ch. 435, Sec. 1; amended by 1989 Tex. Laws, p. 3591, ch. 796, Sec. 2; amended by 1991 Tex. Laws (2nd C.S.), p. 26, ch. 6, Sec. 1; amended by 1993 Tex. Laws, p. 4443, ch. 1031, Sec. 1 and p.4258, ch. 981, Sec. 1; amended by 1997 Tex. Laws, p. 1482, ch. 349, Sec. 1.

Cross References:
Hearing on protest, see Sec. 41.45.
Model form for designation of agent, see Rule Sec. 9.3044.
Model form for designation of agent for residence homestead, see Rule Sec. 9.3044.
Motion for correction, see Sec. 25.25.

Notes:
Pursuant to the provisions of section 1.111(e), an agreement between the property owner’s agent and appraisal district representative regarding an issue under protest before the appraisal review board is final and therefore cannot be appealed to district court. This applies even in instances where the agreement is entered into during the course of a hearing before a panel of the appraisal review board, which is then ratified by order of the full board. The fact the matter cannot be appealed does not violate the property owner’s statutory due process rights. Established law clearly provides due process is satisfied as long as a person has the right to be heard at some stage of the proceedings. In this case such due process was afforded by being able to present and argue the grounds for protest before the appraisal review board panel. BPAC Tex., LP v. Harris County Appraisal Dist., 2004 Tex. App. LEXIS 9592 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] October 28, 2004, no pet. history).

Tourneau Houston, Inc. (a wholly owned subsidiary of Tourneau, Inc.) had no standing to appeal because it was not the owner, was never designated in writing to be the owner’s agent, and no such designation was ever filed with the appraisal district. Tourneau Houston, Inc. v. Harris County Appraisal District, 24 S.W.3d 907 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2000, no pet.).

An appraisal review board exceeds its authority by having a written procedure that a taxpayer’s fiduciary authorization must be filed prior to the filing of a protest or motion. Tarrant Appraisal Review Board v. Martinez Brothers Investments, Inc., 946 S.W.2d 914 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 1997, no writ).

The 45-day limitation period for appeal of an appraisal review board decision only begins to run when proper notice is delivered to the appropriate party. Section 1.07(b) requires the tax official or agency to address the notice to the property owner, the person designated under Section 1.111(f) to receive the notice for the property owner (if that section applies) or, if appropriate, the property owner’s agent at his address according to the most recent record in the possession of the official or agency. If a property owner files a written request for notices to be sent to a particular address, the official or agency shall send the notice to the address stated in the request. The erroneous delivery of a notice and order does not serve to trigger the 45-day period for appeal. A specific statutory scheme sets forth the manner in which property tax representatives may be designated and the effect that designation has on a taxing authority’s obligation to deliver notice. The Texas Administrative Code provides that when an agent is an employee of a subsidiary of the owner, the owner is not required to provide documents supporting that agent’s authority. The agent designation form itself states only that the person naming a tax agent should attach documentation – a suggestion that is not mandatory. Harris County Appraisal District and Harris County Appraisal Review Board v. Drever Partners, Inc., 938 S.W.2d 196 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th District] 1997).

A property tax lawsuit filed in the name of a related, but erroneously designated, taxpayer does not grant jurisdiction to the court to hear a tax protest even if the party who filed the case is claiming to be a “de facto” agent for the original taxpayer. This alleged agent must comply with reasonable fiduciary responsibilities to prove its status as an agent. Evidence of past tax appraisals could be considered by the jury if the contested appraisal showed a large increase in value and the past appraisals had been established based on an agreement between the property owner and the appraisal district. Gregg County Appraisal District v. Laidlaw Waste Systems, Inc., 907 S.W. 2d 12 (Tex. App.-Tyler 1995, writ denied).

A taxpayer whose exemption applications were rejected based upon defective fiduciary forms must challenge this decision of the chief appraiser to the appraisal review board. If there is a factual dispute, a court issued writ of mandamus cannot be requested. Dallas County Appraisal District v. Funds Recovery, Inc., 887 S.W. 2d 465 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1994, writ denied).

Where taxpayer did not check box on appointment of agent form authorizing the sending of notices to the agent, the appraisal review board was required to deliver any notices to the property owner. Mailing a notice without authorization did not trigger the 15- and 45-day appeal time periods. First Union Real Estate Investments v. Taylor CAD, 758 S.W.2d 380 (Tex. App.-Eastland 1988, writ denied).

These codes affect property owners across the state, in both larger and smaller counties including:

  • Dallas County
  • Tarrant County
  • Denton County
  • Williamson County
  • Harris County
  • Montgomery County
  • Bexar County
  • Coryell County
  • Caldwell County
  • Angelina County
  • Bell County
  • Madison County
  • Ellis County
  • Henderson County
  • Anderson County
  • Ector County
  • Walker County

The Texas Property Tax Code applies to all property types in Texas including:

  • Country club
  • Airplane hangar
  • Medical office
  • Multifamily
  • Cold storage facility
  • Student housing
  • Amusement park
  • Skating rink
  • Motel
  • Lodging

O’Connor & Associates offers property tax services to all property owners of all land uses across Texas.

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