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Texas Property Tax Code 2015 Chapter 33 Subchapter C

TITLE 1. PROPERTY TAX CODE
SUBTITLE E. COLLECTIONS AND DELINQUENCY
CHAPTER 33. DELINQUENCY

SUBCHAPTER C. DELINQUENT TAX SUITS

Sec. 33.41.  SUIT TO COLLECT DELINQUENT TAX.  (a)  At any time after its tax on property becomes delinquent, a taxing unit may file suit to foreclose the lien securing payment of the tax, to enforce personal liability for the tax, or both.  The suit must be in a court of competent jurisdiction for the county in which the tax was imposed.

(b)  A suit to collect a delinquent tax takes precedence over all other suits pending in appellate courts.

(c)  In a suit brought under Subsection (a), a taxing unit may foreclose any other lien on the property in favor of the taxing unit or enforce personal liability of the property owner for the other lien.

(d)  In a suit brought under this section, a court shall grant a taxing unit injunctive relief on a showing that the personal property on which the taxing unit seeks to foreclose a tax lien is about to be:

(1)  removed from the county in which the tax was imposed;  or

(2)  transferred to another person and the other person is not a buyer in the ordinary course of business, as defined by Section 1.201, Business & Commerce Code.

(e)  Injunctive relief granted under Subsection (d) must:

(1)  prohibit alienation or dissipation of the property;

(2)  order that proceeds from the sale of the property in an amount equal to the taxes claimed to be due be paid into the court registry;  or

(3)  order any other relief to ensure the payment of the taxes owed.

(f)  A taxing unit is not required to file a bond as a condition to the granting of injunctive relief under Subsection (d).

(g)  In a petition for relief under Subsection (d), the taxing unit may also seek to secure the payment of taxes for a current tax year that are not delinquent and shall estimate the amount due if those taxes are not yet assessed.

(h)  The tax lien attaches to any amounts paid into the court’s registry with the same priority as for the property on which taxes are owed.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2293, ch. 841, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1982.  Amended by Acts 1981, 67th Leg., p. 2644, ch. 707, Sec. 4(33), eff. Aug. 31, 1981;  Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 1031, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1993;  Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1430, Sec. 20, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

                  

Sec. 33.42.  TAXES INCLUDED IN FORECLOSURE SUIT.  (a)  In a suit to foreclose a lien securing payment of its tax on real property, a taxing unit shall include all delinquent taxes due the unit on the property.

(b)  If a taxing unit’s tax on real property becomes delinquent after the unit files suit to foreclose a tax lien on the property but before entry of judgment, the court shall include the amount of the tax and any penalty and interest in its judgment.

(c)  If a tax required by this section to be included in a suit is omitted from the judgment in the suit, the taxing unit may not enforce collection of the tax at a later time except as provided by Section 34.04(c)(2).

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2293, ch. 841, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1982.  Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1430, Sec. 21, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

                  

Sec. 33.43.  PETITION.  (a)  A petition initiating a suit to collect a delinquent property tax is sufficient if it alleges that:

(1)  the taxing unit is legally constituted and authorized to impose and collect ad valorem taxes on property;

(2)  tax in a stated amount was legally imposed on each separately described property for each year specified and on each person named if known who owned the property on January 1 of the year for which the tax was imposed;

(3)  the tax was imposed in the county in which the suit is filed;

(4)  the tax is delinquent;

(5)  penalties, interest, and costs authorized by law in a stated amount for each separately assessed property are due;

(6)  the taxing unit is entitled to recover each penalty that is incurred and all interest that accrues on delinquent taxes imposed on the property from the date of the judgment to the date of the sale under Section 34.01 or under Section 253.010, Local Government Code, as applicable, if the suit seeks to foreclose a tax lien;

(7)  the person sued owned the property on January 1 of the year for which the tax was imposed if the suit seeks to enforce personal liability;

(8)  the person sued owns the property when the suit is filed if the suit seeks to foreclose a tax lien;

(9)  the taxing unit asserts a lien on each separately described property to secure the payment of all taxes, penalties, interest, and costs due if the suit seeks to foreclose a tax lien;

(10)  all things required by law to be done have been done properly by the appropriate officials;  and

(11)  the attorney signing the petition is legally authorized to prosecute the suit on behalf of the taxing unit.

(b)  If the petition alleges that the person sued owns the property on which the taxing unit asserts a lien, the prayer in the petition shall be for foreclosure of the lien and payment of all taxes, penalties, interest, and costs that are due or will become due and that are secured by the lien.  If the petition alleges that the person sued owned the property on January 1 of the year for which the taxes were imposed, the prayer shall be for personal judgment for all taxes, penalties, interest, and costs that are due or will become due on the property.  If the petition contains the appropriate allegations, the prayer may be for both foreclosure of a lien on the property and personal judgment.

(c)  If the suit is for personal judgment against the person who owned personal property on January 1 of the year for which the tax was imposed on the property, the personal property may be described generally.

(d)  The petition need not be verified.

(e)  The comptroller shall prepare forms for petitions initiating suits to collect delinquent taxes.  An attorney representing a taxing unit may use the forms or develop his own form.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2293, ch. 841, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1982.  Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., 2nd C.S., ch. 6, Sec. 49, eff. Sept. 1, 1991;  Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 981, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997;  Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1481, Sec. 19, eff. Sept. 1, 1999;  Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1420, Sec. 18.006, eff. Sept. 1, 2001;  Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1430, Sec. 22, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

                  

Sec. 33.44.  JOINDER OF OTHER TAXING UNITS.  (a)  A taxing unit filing suit to foreclose a tax lien on real property shall join other taxing units that have claims for delinquent taxes against all or part of the same property.

(b)  For purposes of joining a county, citation may be served on the county tax assessor-collector.  For purposes of joining any other taxing unit, citation may be served on the officer charged with collecting taxes for the unit or on the presiding officer or secretary of the governing body of the unit.  Citation may be served by certified mail, return receipt requested.  A person on whom service is authorized by this subsection may waive the issuance and service of citation in behalf of his taxing unit.

(c)  A taxing unit joined in a suit as provided by this section must file its claim for delinquent taxes against the property or its lien on the property is extinguished.  The court’s judgment in the suit shall reflect the extinguishment of a lien under this subsection.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2294, ch. 841, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1982.  Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 4828, ch. 851, Sec. 25, eff. Aug. 29, 1983.

                  

Sec. 33.445.  JOINDER OF TAX LIEN TRANSFEREE.  (a)  A taxing unit acting under Section 33.44(a) shall also join each transferee of a tax lien against the property that may appear of record under Section 32.06.  After the joinder, the transferee of the tax lien may file its claim and seek foreclosure in the suit for all amounts owed the transferee that are secured by the transferred tax lien, regardless of when the original transfer of tax lien was recorded or whether the original loan secured by the transferred tax lien is delinquent.  In the alternative, the transferee may pay all taxes, penalties, interest, court costs, and attorney’s fees owing to the taxing unit that filed the foreclosure suit and each other taxing unit that is joined.

(b)  In consideration of the payment by the transferee of those taxes and charges, each joined taxing unit shall transfer its tax lien to the transferee in the form and manner provided by Section 32.06(b) and enter its disclaimer in the suit.  The transfer of a tax lien under this subsection does not require authorization by the property owner.

(c)  On transfer of all applicable tax liens, the transferee may seek to foreclose the tax liens in the pending suit or in any other manner provided by Section 32.06, regardless of when the original transfer of tax lien was recorded or whether the original loan secured by the transferred tax lien is delinquent.  The foreclosure may include all amounts owed to the transferee, including any amount secured by the original transfer of tax lien.

(d)  All liens held by a transferee who is joined under this section but fails to act in the manner provided by this section are extinguished, and the court’s judgment shall reflect the extinguishment of those liens.

Added by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 104 (H.B. 1465), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2009.

Amended by:

Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 622 (S.B. 762), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2011.

                  

Sec. 33.45.  PLEADING AND ANSWERING TO CLAIMS FILED.  A party to the suit must take notice of and plead and answer to all claims and pleadings filed by other parties that have been joined or have intervened, and each citation must so state.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2294, ch. 841, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1982.

                  

Sec. 33.46.  PARTITION OF REAL PROPERTY.  (a)  If suit is filed to foreclose a tax lien on real property owned in undivided interests by two or more persons, one or more of the owners may have the property partitioned in the manner prescribed by law for the partition of real property in district court.

(b)  The court shall apportion the taxes, penalties, interest, and costs sued for to the owners of the property in proportion to the interest of each.  If an owner pays the taxes, penalties, interest, and costs apportioned to him, the property partitioned to him is free from further claim or lien for the taxes involved in the suit.  If an owner refuses to pay the amount apportioned to him, the suit shall proceed against him for that amount.

(c)  The court shall allow reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of partitioning for each property partitioned.  The fee shall be taxed as costs against each owner in proportion to his interest and constitutes a lien against the property until paid.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2294, ch. 841, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1982.

                  

Sec. 33.47.  TAX RECORDS AS EVIDENCE.  (a)  In a suit to collect a delinquent tax, the taxing unit’s current tax roll and delinquent tax roll or certified copies of the entries showing the property and the amount of the tax and penalties imposed and interest accrued constitute prima facie evidence that each person charged with a duty relating to the imposition of the tax has complied with all requirements of law and that the amount of tax alleged to be delinquent against the property and the amount of penalties and interest due on that tax as listed are the correct amounts.

(b)  If the description of a property in the tax roll or delinquent tax roll is insufficient to identify the property, the records of the appraisal office are admissible to identify the property.

(c)  In a suit to collect a tax, a tax receipt issued under Section 31.075 of this code, or an electronic replica of the receipt, that states that a tax has been paid is prima facie evidence that the tax has been paid as stated by the receipt or electronic replica.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2295, ch. 841, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1982.  Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 52, Sec. 2, eff. May 6, 1987;  Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 828, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995;  Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1481, Sec. 20, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

                  

Sec. 33.475.  ATTORNEY AD LITEM REPORT; APPROVAL OF FEES.  (a)  In a suit to collect a delinquent tax, an attorney ad litem appointed by a court to represent the interests of a defendant served with process by means of citation by publication or posting shall submit to the court a report describing the actions taken by the attorney ad litem to locate and represent the interests of the defendant.

(b)  The court may not approve the fees of the attorney ad litem until the attorney ad litem submits the report required by this section and the court determines that the actions taken by the attorney ad litem as described in the report were sufficient to discharge the attorney’s duties to the defendant.

Added by Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1090 (H.B. 2710), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2015.

                  

Sec. 33.48.  RECOVERY OF COSTS AND EXPENSES.  (a)  In addition to other costs authorized by law, a taxing unit is entitled to recover the following costs and expenses in a suit to collect a delinquent tax:

(1)  all usual court costs, including the cost of serving process and electronic filing fees;

(2)  costs of filing for record a notice of lis pendens against property;

(3)  expenses of foreclosure sale;

(4)  reasonable expenses that are incurred by the taxing unit in determining the name, identity, and location of necessary parties and in procuring necessary legal descriptions of the property on which a delinquent tax is due;

(5)  attorney’s fees in the amount of 15 percent of the total amount of taxes, penalties, and interest due the unit; and

(6)  reasonable attorney ad litem fees approved by the court that are incurred in a suit in which the court orders the appointment of an attorney to represent the interests of a defendant served with process by means of citation by publication or posting.

(b)  Each item specified by Subsection (a) of this section is a charge against the property subject to foreclosure in the suit and shall be collected out of the proceeds of the sale of the property or, if the suit is for personal judgment, charged against the defendant.

(c)  Fees collected for attorneys and other officials are fees of office, except that fees for contract attorneys representing a taxing unit that is joined or intervenes shall be applied toward the compensation due the attorney under the contract.

(d)  A collector who accepts a payment of the court costs and other expenses described by this section shall disburse the amount of the payment as follows:

(1)  amounts owing under Subsections (a)(1), (2), (3), and (6) are payable to the clerk of the court in which the suit is pending; and

(2)  expenses described by Subsection (a)(4) are payable to the general fund of the taxing unit or to the person or entity who advanced the expense.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2295, ch. 841, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1982.  Amended by Acts 1981, 67th Leg., 1st C.S., p. 169, ch. 13, Sec. 131, eff. Jan. 1, 1982;  Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 1031, Sec. 16, eff. Sept. 1, 1993;  Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 906, Sec. 6(a), eff. Jan. 1, 1998;  Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1430, Sec. 23, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1126 (H.B. 2491), Sec. 22, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1259 (H.B. 585), Sec. 18, eff. June 14, 2013.

Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1290 (H.B. 2302), Sec. 19, eff. September 1, 2013.

                  

Sec. 33.49.  LIABILITY OF TAXING UNIT FOR COSTS.

(a)  Except as provided by Subsection (b), a taxing unit is not liable in a suit to collect taxes for court costs, including any fees for service of process or electronic filing, an attorney ad litem, arbitration, or mediation, and may not be required to post security for costs.

(b)  A taxing unit shall pay the cost of publishing citations, notices of sale, or other notices from the unit’s general fund as soon as practicable after receipt of the publisher’s claim for payment.  The taxing unit is entitled to reimbursement from other taxing units that are parties to the suit for their proportionate share of the publication costs on satisfaction of any portion of the tax indebtedness before further distribution of the proceeds.  A taxing unit may not pay a word or line rate for publication of citation or other required notice that exceeds the rate the newspaper publishing the notice charges private entities for similar classes of advertising.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2295, ch. 841, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1982.  Amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 850, Sec. 1, eff. June 19, 1993;  Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1430, Sec. 24, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Amended by:

Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1259 (H.B. 585), Sec. 19, eff. June 14, 2013.

Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1290 (H.B. 2302), Sec. 20, eff. September 1, 2013.

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1236 (S.B. 1296), Sec. 16.002, eff. September 1, 2015.

                  

Sec. 33.50.  ADJUDGED VALUE.  (a)  In a suit for foreclosure of a tax lien on property, the court shall determine the market value of the property on the date of trial.  The appraised value of the property according to the most recent appraisal roll approved by the appraisal review board is presumed to be its market value on the date of trial, and the person being sued has the burden of establishing that the market value of the property differs from that appraised value.  The court shall incorporate a finding of the market value of the property on the date of trial in the judgment.

(b)  If the judgment in a suit to collect a delinquent tax is for the foreclosure of a tax lien on property, the order of sale shall specify that the property may be sold to a taxing unit that is a party to the suit or to any other person, other than a person owning an interest in the property or any party to the suit that is not a taxing unit, for the market value of the property stated in the judgment or the aggregate amount of the judgments against the property, whichever is less.

(c)  The order of sale shall also specify that the property may not be sold to a person owning an interest in the property or to a person who is a party to the suit other than a taxing unit unless:

(1)  that person is the highest bidder at the tax sale;  and

(2)  the amount bid by that person is equal to or greater than the aggregate amount of the judgments against the property, including all costs of suit and sale.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2296, ch. 841, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1982.  Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 914, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997;  Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1481, Sec. 21, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

                  

Sec. 33.51.  WRIT OF POSSESSION.  (a)  If the court orders the foreclosure of a tax lien and the sale of real property, the judgment shall provide for the issuance by the clerk of said court of a writ of possession to the purchaser at the sale or to the purchaser’s assigns no sooner than 20 days following the date on which the purchaser’s deed from the sheriff or constable is filed of record.

(b)  The officer charged with executing the writ shall place the purchaser or the purchaser’s assigns in possession of the property described in the purchaser’s deed without further order from any court and in the manner provided by the writ, subject to any notice to vacate that may be required to be given to a tenant under Section 24.005(b), Property Code.

(c)  The writ of possession shall order the officer executing the writ to:

(1)  post a written warning that is at least 8-1/2 by 11 inches on the exterior of the front door of the premises notifying the occupant that the writ has been issued and that the writ will be executed on or after a specific date and time stated in the warning that is not sooner than the 10th day after the date the warning is posted; and

(2)  on execution of the writ:

(A)  deliver possession of the premises to the purchaser or the purchaser’s assigns;

(B)  instruct the occupants to immediately leave the premises and, if the occupants fail or refuse to comply, physically remove them from the premises;

(C)  instruct the occupants to remove, or to allow the purchaser or purchaser’s assigns, representatives, or other persons acting under the officer’s supervision to remove, all personal property from the premises; and

(D)  place, or have an authorized person place, the removed personal property outside the premises at a nearby location, but not so as to block a public sidewalk, passageway, or street and not while it is raining, sleeting, or snowing.

(d)  The writ of possession shall authorize the officer, at the officer’s discretion, to engage the services of a bonded or insured warehouseman to remove and store, subject to applicable law, all or part of the personal property at no cost to the purchaser, the purchaser’s assigns, or the officer executing the writ.  The officer may not require the purchaser or the purchaser’s assigns to store the personal property.

(e)  The writ of possession shall contain notice to the officer that under Section 7.003, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, the officer is not liable for damages resulting from the execution of the writ if the officer executes the writ in good faith and with reasonable diligence.

(f)  The warehouseman’s lien on stored property, the officer’s duties, and the occupants’ rights of redemption as provided by Section 24.0062, Property Code, are all applicable with respect to any personal property that is removed under Subsection (d).

(g)  A sheriff or constable may use reasonable force in executing a writ under this section.

(h)  If a taxing unit is a purchaser and is entitled to a writ of possession in the taxing unit’s name:

(1)  a bond may not be required of the taxing unit for issuance or delivery of a writ of possession; and

(2)  a fee or court cost may not be charged for issuance or delivery of a writ of possession.

(i)  In this section:

(1)  “Premises” means all of the property described in the purchaser’s deed, including the buildings, dwellings, or other structures located on the property.

(2)  “Purchaser” includes a taxing unit to which property is bid off under Section 34.01(j).

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2296, ch. 841, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1982.  Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 906, Sec. 7, eff. Jan. 1, 1998;  Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 914, Sec. 6, eff. Sept. 1, 1997;  Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1111, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1997;  Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1481, Sec. 42(1).

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1126 (H.B. 2491), Sec. 23, eff. September 1, 2005.

                  

Sec. 33.52.  TAXES INCLUDED IN JUDGMENT.  (a)  Only taxes that are delinquent on the date of a judgment may be included in the amount recoverable under the judgment by the taxing units that are parties to the suit.

(b)  In lieu of stating as a liquidated amount the aggregate total of taxes, penalties, and interest due, a judgment may:

(1)  set out the tax due each taxing unit for each year;  and

(2)  provide that penalties and interest accrue on the unpaid taxes as provided by Subchapter A.

(c)  For purposes of calculating penalties and interest due under the judgment, it is presumed that the delinquency date for a tax is February 1 of the year following the year in which the tax was imposed, unless the judgment provides otherwise.

(d)  Except as provided by Section 34.05(k), a taxing unit’s claim for taxes that become delinquent after the date of the judgment is not affected by the entry of the judgment or a tax sale conducted under that judgment.  Those taxes may be collected by any remedy provided by this title.

Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 906, Sec. 8, eff. Jan. 1, 1998;  Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 981, Sec. 2;  Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1111, Sec. 3;  Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1481, Sec. 22, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Amended by:

Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 740 (H.B. 1118), Sec. 1, eff. June 17, 2011.

                  

Sec. 33.53.  ORDER OF SALE;  PAYMENT BEFORE SALE.  (a)  If judgment in a suit to collect a delinquent tax is for foreclosure of a tax lien, the court shall order the property sold in satisfaction of the amount of the judgment.

(b)  On application by a taxing unit that is a party to the judgment, the district clerk shall prepare an order to an officer authorized to conduct execution sales ordering the sale of the property.  If more than one parcel of property is included in the judgment, the taxing unit may specify particular parcels to be sold.  A taxing unit may request more than one order of sale as necessary to collect all amounts due under the judgment.

(c)  An order of sale:

(1)  shall be returned to the district clerk as unexecuted if not executed before the 181st day after the date the order is issued;  and

(2)  may be accompanied by a copy of the judgment and a bill of costs attached to the order and incorporate the terms of the judgment or bill of costs by reference.

(d)  A judgment or a bill of costs attached to the order of sale is not required to be certified.

(e)  If the owner pays the amount of the judgment before the property is sold, the taxing unit shall:

(1)  release the tax lien held by the taxing unit on the property;  and

(2)  file for record with the clerk of the court in which the judgment was rendered a release of the lien.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2296, ch. 841, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1982.  Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 537, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997;  Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1481, Sec. 23, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

                  

Sec. 33.54.  LIMITATION ON ACTIONS RELATING TO PROPERTY SOLD FOR TAXES.  (a)  Except as provided by Subsection (b), an action relating to the title to property may not be maintained against the purchaser of the property at a tax sale unless the action is commenced:

(1)  before the first anniversary of the date that the deed executed to the purchaser at the tax sale is filed of record;  or

(2)  before the second anniversary of the date that the deed executed to the purchaser is filed of record, if on the date that the suit to collect the delinquent tax was filed the property was:

(A)  the residence homestead of the owner;  or

(B)  land appraised or eligible to be appraised under Subchapter C or D, Chapter 23.

(b)  If a person other than the purchaser at the tax sale or the person’s successor in interest pays taxes on the property during the applicable limitations period and until the commencement of an action challenging the validity of the tax sale and that person was not served citation in the suit to foreclose the tax lien, that limitations period does not apply to that person.

(c)  When actions are barred by this section, the purchaser at the tax sale or the purchaser’s successor in interest has full title to the property, precluding all other claims.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2296, ch. 841, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1982.  Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1136, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997;  Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1192, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

                  

Sec. 33.55.  EFFECT OF JUDGMENT ON ACCRUAL OF PENALTIES AND INTEREST.  A judgment for delinquent taxes does not affect the accrual after the date of the judgment of penalties and interest under this chapter on the taxes included in the judgment.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1111, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

                  

Sec. 33.56.  VACATION OF JUDGMENT.  (a)  If, in a suit to collect a delinquent tax, a court renders a judgment for foreclosure of a tax lien on behalf of a taxing unit, any taxing unit that was a party to the judgment may file a petition to vacate the judgment on one or more of the following grounds:

(1)  failure to join a person needed for just adjudication under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, including a taxing unit required to be joined under Section 33.44(a);

(2)  failure to serve a person needed for just adjudication under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, including a taxing unit required to be joined under Section 33.44(a);

(3)  failure of the judgment to adequately describe the property that is the subject of the suit;  or

(4)  that the property described in the judgment was subject to multiple appraisals for the tax years included in the judgment.

(b)  The taxing unit must file the petition under the same cause number as the delinquent tax suit and in the same court.

(c)  The taxing unit may not file a petition if a tax sale of the property has occurred unless:

(1)  the tax sale has been vacated by an order of a court;

(2)  the property was bid off to a taxing unit under Section 34.01(j) and has not been resold;  or

(3)  the tax sale or resale purchaser, or the purchaser’s heirs, successors, or assigns, consents to the petition.

(d)  Consent of the purchaser to a petition may be shown by:

(1)  a written memorandum signed by the purchaser and filed with the court;

(2)  the purchaser’s joinder in the taxing unit’s petition;

(3)  a statement of the purchaser made in open court on the record in a hearing on the petition;  or

(4)  the purchaser’s signature of approval to an agreed order to grant the petition.

(e)  A copy of the petition must be served in a manner authorized by Rule 21a, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, on each party to the delinquent tax suit.

(f)  If the court grants the petition, the court shall enter an order providing that:

(1)  the judgment, any tax sale based on that judgment, and any subsequent resale are vacated;

(2)  any applicable tax deed or applicable resale deed is canceled;

(3)  the delinquent tax suit is revived;  and

(4)  except in a case in which judgment is vacated under Subsection (a)(4), the taxes, penalties, interest, and attorney’s fees and costs, and the liens that secure each of those items, are reinstated.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 626, Sec. 1, eff. August 30, 1999.  Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1430, Sec. 25, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

                  

Sec. 33.57.  ALTERNATIVE NOTICE OF TAX FORECLOSURE ON CERTAIN  PARCELS OF REAL PROPERTY.  (a)  In this section, “appraised value” means the appraised value according to the most recent appraisal roll approved by the appraisal review board.

(b)  This section may be invoked and used by one or more taxing units if there are delinquent taxes, penalties, interest, and attorney’s fees owing to a taxing unit on a parcel of real property, and:

(1)  the total amount of delinquent taxes, penalties, interest, and attorney’s fees owed exceeds the appraised value of the parcel; or

(2)  there are 10 or more years for which delinquent taxes are owed on the parcel.

(c)  One or more taxing units may file a single petition for foreclosure under this section that includes multiple parcels of property and multiple owners.  Alternatively, separate petitions may be filed and docketed separately for each parcel of property.  Another taxing unit with a tax claim against the same parcel may intervene in an action for the purpose of establishing and foreclosing its tax lien without further notice to a defendant.  The petition must be filed in the county in which the tax was imposed and is sufficient if it is in substantially the form prescribed by Section 33.43 and further alleges that:

(1)  the amount owed in delinquent taxes, penalties, interest, and attorney’s fees exceeds the appraised value of the parcel; or

(2)  there are 10 or more years for which delinquent taxes are owed on the parcel.

(d)  Simultaneously with the filing of the petition under this section, a taxing unit shall also file a motion with the court seeking an order approving notice of the petition to each defendant by certified mail in lieu of citation and, if the amount of delinquent taxes, penalties, interest, and attorney’s fees alleged to be owed exceeds the appraised value of the parcel, waiving the appointment of an attorney ad litem.  The motion must be supported by certified copies of tax records that show the tax years for which delinquent taxes are owed, the amounts of delinquent taxes, penalties, interest, and attorney’s fees, and, if appropriate, the appraised value of the parcel.

(e)  The court shall approve a motion under Subsection (d) if the documents in support of the motion show that:

(1)  the amount of delinquent taxes, penalties, interest, and attorney’s fees that are owed exceeds the appraised value of the parcel; or

(2)  there are 10 or more years for which delinquent taxes are owed on the parcel.

(f)  Before filing a petition under this section, or as soon afterwards as practicable, the taxing unit or its attorney shall determine the address of each owner of a property interest in the parcel for the purpose of providing notice of the pending petition.  If the title search, the taxing unit’s tax records, and the appraisal district records do not disclose an address of a person with a property interest, consulting the following sources of information is to be considered a reasonable effort by the taxing unit or its attorney to determine the address of a person with a property interest in the parcel subject to foreclosure:

(1)  telephone directories, electronic or otherwise, that cover:

(A)  the area of any last known address for the person; and

(B)  the county in which the parcel is located;

(2)  voter registration records in the county in which the parcel is located; and

(3)  where applicable, assumed name records maintained by the county clerk of the county in which the parcel is located and corporate records maintained by the secretary of state.

(g)  Not later than the 45th day before the date on which a hearing on the merits on a taxing unit’s petition is scheduled, the taxing unit or its attorney shall send a copy of the petition and a notice by certified mail to each person whose address is determined under Subsection (f), informing the person of the pending foreclosure action and the scheduled hearing.  A copy of each notice shall be filed with the clerk of the court together with an affidavit by the tax collector or by the taxing unit’s attorney attesting to the fact and date of mailing of the notice.

(h)  In addition to the notice required by Subsection (g), the taxing unit shall provide notice by publication and by posting to all persons with a property interest in the parcel subject to foreclosure.  The notice shall be published in the English language once a week for two weeks in a newspaper that is published in the county in which the parcel is located and that has been in general circulation for at least one year immediately before the date of the first publication, with the first publication to be not less than the 45th day before the date on which the taxing unit’s petition is scheduled to be heard.  When returned and filed in the trial court, an  affidavit of the editor or publisher of the newspaper attesting to the date of publication, together with a printed copy of the notice as published, is sufficient proof of publication under this subsection.  If a newspaper is not published in the county in which the parcel is located, publication in an otherwise  qualifying newspaper published in an adjoining county is sufficient.  The maximum fee for publishing the citation shall be the lowest published word or line rate of that newspaper for classified advertising.  The notice by posting shall be in the English language and given by posting a copy of the notice at the courthouse door of the county in which the foreclosure is pending not less than the 45th day before the date on which the taxing unit’s petition is scheduled to be heard.  Proof of the posting of the notice shall be made by affidavit of the attorney for the taxing unit, or of the person posting it.  If the publication of the notice cannot be had for the maximum fee established in this subsection, and that fact is supported by the affidavit of the attorney for the taxing unit, the notice by posting under this subsection is sufficient.

(i)  The notice required by Subsections (g) and (h) must include:

(1)  a statement that foreclosure proceedings have been commenced and the date the petition was filed;

(2)  a legal description, tax account number, and, if known, a street address for the parcel in which the addressee owns a property interest;

(3)  the name of the person to whom the notice is addressed and the name of each other person who, according to the title search, has an interest in the parcel in which the addressee owns a property interest;

(4)  the date, time, and place of the scheduled hearing on the petition;

(5)  a statement that the recipient of the notice may lose whatever property interest the recipient owns in the parcel as a result of the hearing and any subsequent tax sale;

(6)  a statement explaining how a person may contest the taxing unit’s petition as provided by Subsection (j) and that a person’s interest in the parcel may be preserved by paying all delinquent taxes, penalties, interest, attorney’s fees, and court costs before the date of the scheduled hearing on the petition;

(7)  the name, address, and telephone number of the taxing unit and the taxing unit’s attorney of record; and

(8)  the name of each other taxing unit that imposes taxes on the parcel, together with a notice that any taxing unit may intervene without further notice and set up its claims for delinquent taxes.

(j)  A person claiming a property interest in a parcel subject to foreclosure may contest a taxing unit’s petition by filing with the clerk of the court a written response to the petition not later than the seventh day before the date scheduled for hearing on the petition and specifying in the response any affirmative defense of the person.  A copy of the response must be served on the taxing unit’s attorney of record in the manner required by Rule 21a, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.  The taxing unit is entitled on request to a continuance of the hearing if a written response filed to a notice of the hearing contains an affirmative defense or requests affirmative relief against the taxing unit.

(k)  Before entry of a judgment under this section, a taxing unit may remove a parcel erroneously included in the petition and may take a voluntary nonsuit as to one or more parcels of property without prejudicing its action against the remaining parcels.

(l)  If before the hearing on a taxing unit’s petition the taxing unit discovers a deficiency in the provision of notice under this section, the taxing unit shall take reasonable steps in good faith to correct the deficiency before the hearing.  A notice provided by Subsections (g)-(i) is in lieu of citation issued and served under Rule 117a, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.  Regardless of the manner in which notice under this section is given, an attorney ad litem may not be appointed for a person with an interest in a parcel with delinquent taxes, penalties, interest, and attorney’s fees against the parcel in an amount that exceeds the parcel’s appraised value.  To the extent of any additional conflict between this section and the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, this section controls.  Except as otherwise provided by this section, a suit brought under this section is governed generally by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and by Subchapters C and D of this chapter.

(m)  A judgment in favor of a taxing unit under this section must be only for foreclosure of the tax lien against the parcel.  The judgment may not include a personal judgment against any person.

(n)  A person is considered to have been provided sufficient notice of foreclosure and opportunity to be heard for purposes of a proceeding under this section if the taxing unit follows the procedures required by this section for notice by certified mail or by publication and posting or if one or more of the following apply:

(1)  the person had constructive notice of the hearing on the merits by acquiring an interest in the parcel after the date of the filing of the taxing unit’s petition;

(2)  the person appeared at the hearing on the taxing unit’s petition or filed a responsive pleading or other communication with the clerk of the court before the date of the hearing; or

(3)  before the hearing on the taxing unit’s petition, the person had actual notice of the hearing.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1126 (H.B. 2491), Sec. 24, eff. September 1, 2005.

                  

For expiration of this section, see Subsection (h).

Sec. 33.58.  ALTERNATIVE NOTICE OF FORECLOSURE FOR PARCELS IN CERTAIN MUNICIPALITIES.  (a)  This section may be invoked and used by one or more taxing units if there are delinquent taxes, penalties, interest, and attorney’s fees owing to a taxing unit on a parcel of real property and there are five or more years for which delinquent taxes are owed on the parcel, if the parcel is located in a municipality having a population of more than 100,000 that is situated in two or more counties, at least two of which have a population of more than one million, and in a subdivision having an average lot size of one-fifth of an acre or less.

(b)  If a taxing unit invokes this section, the procedures and other provisions of Section 33.57 apply except as otherwise provided by this section.

(c)  Notwithstanding Section 33.57(c), a petition for foreclosure under this section is sufficient if it is in substantially the form prescribed by Section 33.43 and further alleges the grounds for invoking this section provided by Subsection (a).

(d)  Notwithstanding Section 33.57(e), a court shall approve a motion under Section 33.57(d) if the documents in support of the motion show that the grounds for invoking this section provided by Subsection (a) exist.

(e)  If a taxing unit’s petition includes multiple parcels of property and if requested by the taxing unit, the court’s order of sale shall provide that the officer conducting the sale shall sell the parcels in solido, regardless of whether the parcels adjoin one another or have common ownership.

(f)  If the officer conducting the sale of the property is ordered to sell the property in solido under Subsection (e), the officer shall use, in calculating the minimum bid amount under Section 33.50(b) or (c), as appropriate:

(1)  the aggregate of all amounts awarded against the multiple parcels of property as the aggregate amount of the judgments; or

(2)  the aggregate of the adjudged market values of the multiple parcels of property as the market value of the property stated in the judgment.

(g)  If multiple parcels of property are sold in solido under an order of sale issued under Subsection (e), the amounts prescribed by Section 34.21 that must be paid in redeeming property shall, for the purpose of redeeming an individual parcel of property, be in an amount equal to the taxes, penalties, interest, and attorney’s fees adjudged against that individual parcel.

(h)  This section expires September 1, 2017.

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1042 (H.B. 1899), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

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