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Texas Property Tax Code 2021 Chapter 33 Subchapter E

Texas Property Tax Code 2021 Chapter 33 Subchapter E

Texas Property Tax Code
2021 Edition
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

The Texas Property Tax Code available on this website are current through the Regular Session of the 87th 2nd Called Legislative Session, 2021. The Texas Constitution is current through the amendments approved by voters in November 2019.

Return to: Texas Property Tax code Table of contents

TITLE 1. PROPERTY TAX CODE

SUBTITLE E. COLLECTIONS AND DELINQUENCY

CHAPTER 33. DELINQUENCY

SUBCHAPTER E. SEIZURE OF REAL PROPERTY

Sec. 33.71. MASTERS FOR TAX SUITS. (a) The court may, in delinquent tax suits, for good cause appoint a master in chancery for each case as desired, who shall be a citizen of this state and not an attorney for either party to the action, nor related to either party, who shall perform all of the duties required by the court, be under orders of the court, and have the power the master of chancery has in a court of equity.

(b) The order of reference to the master may specify or limit the master’s powers, and may direct the master to report only upon particular issues, or to do or perform particular acts, or to receive and report evidence only, and may fix the time and place for beginning and closing the hearings and for the filing of the master’s report.

(c) Subject to the limitations and specifications stated in the order, the master may:

(1) regulate all proceedings in every hearing before the master and do all acts and take all measures necessary or proper for the efficient performance of duties under the order;

(2) require the production of evidence upon all matters embraced in the reference, including the production of books, papers, vouchers, documents, and other writings applicable to the case;

(3) rule upon the admissibility of evidence, unless otherwise directed by the order of reference;

(4) put witnesses on oath, and examine them; and

(5) call the parties to the action and examine them upon oath.

(d) When a party requests, the master shall make a record of the evidence offered and excluded in the same manner as provided for a court sitting in the trial of a case.

(e) The clerk of the court shall forthwith furnish the master with a copy of the order of reference.

(f) The parties may procure the attendance of witnesses before the master by the issuance and service of process as provided by law.

(g) A pretrial ruling of a tax master from which a mandamus is sought must be appealed to the referring court before the initiation of mandamus proceedings before the court of appeals.

(h) Notwithstanding any other law or requirement, an attorney appointed a master under this section may practice law in the referring court if otherwise qualified to do so.

Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 5058, ch. 916, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983. Transferred from Sec. 1.13, and amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 525, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991. Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 326, Sec. 1, eff. May 24, 2001.

Sec. 33.72. REPORT TRANSMITTED TO COURT; NOTICE. (a) At the conclusion of any hearing conducted by a master that results in a recommendation of a final judgment or on the request of the referring court, the master shall transmit to the referring court all papers relating to the case, with the master’s signed and dated report.

(b) After the master’s report has been signed, the master shall give to the parties participating in the hearing notice of the substance of the report. The master’s report may contain the master’s findings, conclusions, or recommendations. The master’s report must be in writing in a form as the referring court may direct. The form may be a notation on the referring court’s docket sheet.

(c) If the master’s report recommends a final judgment, notice of the right of appeal to the judge of the referring court shall be given to all parties.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 525, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991.

Sec. 33.73. COURT ACTION ON MASTER’S REPORT; MASTER’S COMPENSATION. (a) After the master’s report is filed, and unless a party has filed a written notice of appeal to the referring court, the court may confirm, modify, correct, reject, reverse, or recommit the report as the court may deem proper and necessary in the particular circumstances of the case.

(b) The court shall award reasonable compensation to the master to be taxed as costs of suit.

(c) The district clerk shall collect the fees taxed as costs of suit and award the fees to the master as required under Subsection (b) in each delinquent tax suit for which a master is appointed under Section 33.71, regardless of the disposition of the suit subject to this subsection. Fees may not be collected or awarded in a suit dismissed by the master unless the master:

(1) held at least one hearing on the suit; or

(2) prepared for the suit for at least a number of hours equivalent to the time typically required to conduct a hearing.

Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 5058, ch. 916, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983. Transferred from Sec. 1.13, and amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 525, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991.

Amended by:

Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 368 (H.B. 3389), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2017.

Sec. 33.74. APPEAL OF RECOMMENDATION OF FINAL JUDGMENT TO THE REFERRING COURT OR ON REQUEST OF THE REFERRING COURT. (a) Any party is entitled to a hearing by the judge of the referring court, if within 10 days, computed in the manner provided by Rule 4 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, after the master gives the notice required by Section 33.72(c), an appeal of the master’s report is filed with the referring court. The first day of the appeal time to the referring court begins on the day after the date on which the master gives the notice.

(b) The notice required by Section 33.72(c) may be given in open court or may be given by first class mail. If the notice is given by first class mail the notice is considered to have been given on the third day after the date of the mailing.

(c) All appeals to the referring court shall be in writing specifying the findings and conclusions of the master that are objected to and the appeal shall be limited to those findings and conclusions.

(d) On appeal to the referring court, the parties may present witnesses as in a hearing de novo only on the issues raised in the appeal.

(e) Notice of any appeal to the referring court shall be given to opposing counsel under Rule 72 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

(f) If an appeal to the referring court is filed by a party, any other party may file an appeal to the referring court not later than the seventh day after the date the initial appeal was filed.

(g) The referring court, after notice to the parties, shall hold a hearing on all appeals not later than the 45th day after the date on which the initial appeal was filed with the referring court.

(h) Before a hearing before a master, the parties may waive the right of appeal to the referring court in writing or on the record.

(i) The failure to appeal to the referring court, by waiver or otherwise, a master’s report that is approved by the referring court does not deprive any party of the right to appeal to or request other relief from a court of appeals or the supreme court. The date of the signing of an order or judgment by the referring court is the controlling date for the purposes of appeal to or request for other relief from a court of appeals or the supreme court.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 525, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991.

Sec. 33.75. DECREE OR ORDER OF COURT. If an appeal to the referring court is not filed or the right to an appeal to the referring court is waived, the findings and recommendations of the master become the decree or order of the referring court on the referring court’s signing an order or decree conforming to the master’s report.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 525, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991.

Sec. 33.76. JURY TRIAL DEMANDED. (a) In a trial on the merits, if a jury trial is demanded and a jury fee is paid, as prescribed by Rule 216, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, the master shall refer any matters requiring a jury back to the referring court for a full trial before the referring court and jury. However, the master shall conduct all pretrial work necessary to prepare the case for a jury trial.

(b) The master may require all parties to submit a proposed jury charge or other pretrial order or sanction the parties for failure to present or prepare a proper pretrial order.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 525, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991.

Sec. 33.77. EFFECT OF MASTER’S REPORT PENDING APPEAL. Pending appeal of the master’s report to the referring court, the decisions and recommendations of the master are in full force and effect and are enforceable as an order of the referring court, except for orders providing for incarceration or for the appointment of a receiver.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 525, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991.

Sec. 33.78. MASTERS MAY NOT BE APPOINTED UNDER TEXAS RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE. A court may not appoint a master under Rule 171, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, in a delinquent tax suit.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 525, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991.

Sec. 33.79. IMMUNITY. A master appointed under this subchapter has the judicial immunity of a district judge. All existing immunity granted masters by law, express or implied, continues in full force and effect.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 525, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991.

Sec. 33.80. COURT REPORTER. A court reporter is not required during a hearing held by a master appointed under this subchapter. A party, the master, or the referring court may provide for a reporter during the hearing. The record may be preserved by any other means approved by the master. The referring court or master may tax the expense of preserving the record as costs.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 525, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991.

SUBCHAPTER E. SEIZURE OF REAL PROPERTY

Sec. 33.91. PROPERTY SUBJECT TO SEIZURE BY MUNICIPALITY. (a) After notice has been provided to a person, the person’s real property, whether improved or unimproved, is subject to seizure by a municipality for the payment of delinquent ad valorem taxes, penalties, and interest the person owes on the property and the amount secured by a municipal health or safety lien on the property if:

(1) the property:

(A) is in a municipality;

(B) is less than one acre; and

(C) has been abandoned for at least one year;

(2) the taxes on the property are delinquent for:

(A) each of the preceding five years; or

(B) each of the preceding three years if a lien on the property has been created on the property in favor of the municipality for the cost of remedying a health or safety hazard on the property; and

(3) the tax collector of the municipality determines that seizure of the property under this subchapter for the payment of the delinquent taxes, penalties, and interest, and of a municipal health and safety lien on the property, would be in the best interest of the municipality and the other taxing units after determining that the sum of all outstanding tax and municipal claims against the property plus the estimated costs under Section 33.48 of a standard judicial foreclosure exceed the anticipated proceeds from a tax sale.

(b) The seizure and sale may not be set aside or voided because of any error in determination.

(c) For purposes of this section, a property is presumed to have been abandoned for at least one year if, during that period, the property has remained vacant and a lawful act of ownership of the property has not been exercised. The tax collector of a municipality may rely on the affidavit of any competent person with personal knowledge of the facts in determining whether a property has been abandoned or vacant. For purposes of this subsection:

(1) property is considered vacant if there is an absence of any activity by the owner, a tenant, or a licensee related to residency, work, trade, business, leisure, or recreation; and

(2) “lawful act of ownership” includes mowing or cutting grass or weeds, repairing or demolishing a structure or fence, removing debris, or other form of property upkeep or maintenance performed by or at the request of the owner of the property.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 1017, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 28, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 914, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 319, Sec. 2, eff. June 18, 2003.

Sec. 33.911. PROPERTY SUBJECT TO SEIZURE BY COUNTY. (a) After notice has been provided to a person, the person’s real property, whether improved or unimproved, is subject to seizure by a county for the payment of delinquent ad valorem taxes, penalties, and interest the person owes on the property if:

(1) the property:

(A) is in the county;

(B) is not in a municipality; and

(C) has been abandoned for at least one year;

(2) the taxes on the property are delinquent for each of the preceding five years; and

(3) the county tax assessor-collector determines that seizure of the property under this subchapter for the payment of the delinquent taxes, penalties, and interest would be in the best interest of the county and the other taxing units after determining that the sum of all outstanding tax and county claims against the property plus the estimated costs under Section 33.48 of a standard judicial foreclosure exceed the anticipated proceeds from a tax sale.

(b) The seizure and sale may not be set aside or voided because of any error in determination.

(c) For purposes of this section, a property is presumed to have been abandoned for at least one year if, during that period, the property has remained vacant and a lawful act of ownership of the property has not been exercised. The tax collector of a county may rely on the affidavit of any competent person with personal knowledge of the facts in determining whether a property has been abandoned or vacant. For purposes of this subsection:

(1) property is considered vacant if there is an absence of any activity by the owner, a tenant, or a licensee related to residency, work, trade, business, leisure, or recreation; and

(2) “lawful act of ownership” includes mowing or cutting grass or weeds, repairing or demolishing a structure or fence, removing debris, or other form of property upkeep or maintenance performed by or at the request of the owner of the property.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 914, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 319, Sec. 3, eff. June 18, 2003.

Sec. 33.912. NOTICE. (a) A person is considered to have been provided the notice required by Sections 33.91 and 33.911 if by affidavit or otherwise the collector shows that the assessor or collector for the municipality or county mailed the person each bill for municipal or county taxes required to be sent the person by Section 31.01:

(1) in each of the five preceding years, if the taxes on the property are delinquent for each of those years; or

(2) in each of the three preceding years, if:

(A) the taxes on the property are delinquent for each of those years; and

(B) a lien on the property has been created on the property in favor of the municipality for the cost of remedying a health or safety hazard on the property.

(b) If notice under Subsection (a) is not provided, the notice required by Section 33.91 or 33.911 shall be given by the assessor or the collector for the municipality or county, as applicable, by:

(1) serving, in the manner provided by Rule 21a, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, a true and correct copy of the application for a tax warrant filed under Section 33.92 to each person known, or constructively known through reasonable inquiry, to own or have an interest in the property;

(2) publishing in the English language a notice of the assessor’s intent to seize the property in a newspaper published in the county in which the property is located if, after exercising reasonable diligence, the assessor or collector cannot determine ownership or the address of the known owners; or

(3) if required under Subsection (g), posting in the English language a notice of the assessor’s intent to seize the property if, after exercising reasonable diligence, the assessor or collector cannot determine ownership or the address of the known owners.

(c) A notice under Subsection (b)(1) shall be provided at the time of filing the application for a tax warrant and must be supported by a certificate of service appearing on the application in the same manner and form as provided by Rule 21a, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. The notice is sufficient if sent to the person’s last known address.

(d) A notice by publication or posting under Subsection (b) must substantially comply with this subsection. The notice must:

(1) be published or posted at least 10 days but not more than 180 days before the date the application for tax warrant under Section 33.92 is filed;

(2) be directed to the owners of the property by name, if known, or, if unknown, to “the unknown owners of the property described below”;

(3) state that the assessor or collector intends to seize the property as abandoned property and that the property will be sold at public auction without further notice unless all delinquent taxes, penalties, and interest are paid before the sale of the property; and

(4) describe the property.

(e) A description of the property under Subsection (d)(4) is sufficient if it is the same as the property description appearing on the current tax roll for the county or municipality.

(f) A notice by publication or posting under Subsection (b) may relate to more than one property or to multiple owners of property.

(g) For publishing a notice under Subsection (b)(2), a newspaper may charge a rate that does not exceed the greater of two cents per word or an amount equal to the published word or line rate of that newspaper for the same class of advertising. If notice cannot be provided under Subsection (b)(1) and there is not a newspaper published in the county where the property is located, or a newspaper that will publish the notice for the rate authorized by this subsection, the assessor shall post the notice in writing in three public places in the county. One of the posted notices must be at the door of the county courthouse. Proof of the posting shall be made by affidavit of the person posting the notice or by the attorney for the assessor or collector.

(h) A person is considered to have been provided the notice under Section 33.91 or 33.911 in the manner provided by Subsection (b) if the application for the tax warrant under Section 33.92:

(1) contains the certificate of service as required by Subsection (b)(1);

(2) is accompanied by an affidavit on behalf of the applicable assessor or collector stating the fact of publication under Subsection (b)(2), with a copy of the published notice attached; or

(3) is accompanied by an affidavit of posting on behalf of the applicable assessor or collector under Subsection (g) stating the fact of posting and facts supporting the necessity of posting.

(i) A failure to provide, give, or receive a notice provided under this section does not affect the validity of a sale of the seized property or title to the property.

(j) The costs of publishing notice under this section are chargeable as costs and payable from the proceeds of the sale of the property.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 914, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 319, Sec. 4, eff. June 18, 2003.

Sec. 33.92. INSTITUTION OF SEIZURE. (a) After property becomes subject to seizure under Section 33.91 or 33.911, the collector for a municipality or a county, as appropriate, may apply for a tax warrant to a district court in the county in which the property is located.

(b) The court shall issue the tax warrant if by affidavit the collector shows that the property is subject to seizure under Section 33.91 or 33.911. The collector may show that the property has been abandoned or vacant for at least one year, as required by Section 33.91(a)(1)(C) or 33.911(a)(1)(C) by affidavit of any competent person with personal knowledge of the relevant facts.

(c) The court issuing the tax warrant shall include a statement as to the appraised value of the property according to the most recent appraisal roll approved by the appraisal review board. That value is presumed to be the market value of the property on the date that the warrant is issued.

(d) The collector is entitled, on request in the application, to recover attorney’s fees in an amount equal to the compensation specified in the contract with the attorney for collection of the delinquent taxes, penalties, and interest on the property if:

(1) the taxing unit served by the collector contracts with an attorney under Section 6.30;

(2) the existence of the contract and the amount of attorney’s fees that equal the compensation specified in the contract are supported by the affidavit of the collector; and

(3) the delinquent tax sought to be recovered is not subject to an additional penalty under Section 33.07 or 33.08 at the time the application is filed.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 1017, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 28, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 914, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 319, Sec. 5, eff. June 18, 2003.

Sec. 33.93. TAX WARRANT. (a) A tax warrant shall direct the sheriff or a constable in the county and the collector for the municipality or the county to seize the property described in the warrant, subject to the right of redemption, for the payment of the ad valorem taxes, penalties, and interest owing on the property included in the application, any attorney’s fees included in the application as provided by Section 33.92(d), the amount secured by a municipal health or safety lien on the property included in the application, and the costs of seizure and sale. The warrant shall direct the person whose property is seized to disclose to a person executing the warrant the name and address if known of any other person having an interest in the property.

(b) A bond may not be required of a municipality or county for issuance or delivery of a tax warrant, and a fee or court cost may not be charged for issuance or delivery of the warrant.

(c) On issuance of a tax warrant, the collector shall take possession of the property pending its sale by the officer charged with selling the property.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 1017, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 28, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 914, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 319, Sec. 6, eff. June 18, 2003.

Sec. 33.94. NOTICE OF TAX SALE. (a) After a seizure of property, the collector for the municipality or county shall make a reasonable inquiry to determine the identity and address of any person, other than the person against whom the tax warrant is issued, having an interest in the property. The collector shall deliver as soon as possible a notice stating the time and place of the sale and briefly describing the property seized to:

(1) the person against whom the warrant is issued, including each person to whom notice was provided under Section 33.912(a);

(2) each person to whom notice was provided under Section 33.912(b)(1); and

(3) any other person the collector determines has an interest in the property if the collector can ascertain the address of the other person.

(b) Failure to send or receive a notice required by this section does not affect the validity of the sale of the seized property or title to the property.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 1017, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 28, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 914, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 319, Sec. 7, eff. June 18, 2003.

Sec. 33.95. PURCHASER. A purchaser for value at or subsequent to the tax sale may conclusively presume the validity of the sale and takes free of any claim of a party with a prior interest in the property subject to the provisions of Section 16.002(b), Civil Practice and Remedies Code, and subject to applicable rights of redemption.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 1017, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 28, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 914, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Return to: Texas Property Tax code Table of contents

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