Lawmakers have passed the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act of 2019 or SB2 (Senate Bill 2), which is expected to help ease the tax burden on property owners in Texas. SB2 puts a cap on certain property tax increases, authorizes the collection of certain fees, improves the process of property rate-setting, and lays out some key changes in the way property appraisals are done.

SB2 also amends the Tax Code by stressing the importance of appraisal manuals and indicating how they should be prepared. It also defines the Comptroller’s roles and responsibilities in preparing the state’s appraisal manuals

Roles and responsibilities of the Comptroller in preparing appraisal manuals

SB2 amends Section 5.05 of the Tax Code with the addition of subsections emphasizing the need for appraisal manuals. The first subsection says that appraisal districts will use appraisal manuals prepared and issued by the Comptroller to appraise all properties.

Another subsection added to the existing Tax Code says that the law requires the Comptroller to prepare and issue these manuals. All the manuals used in the determination of market values of properties will be prepared using generally accepted appraisal techniques and methods.

In addition to preparing and issuing appraisal manuals, the Comptroller may also prepare, issue, approve, or improve the publication of other materials related to property appraisal and tax administration. These materials may include those published by the International Association of Assessing Officers, The Appraisal Foundation, and other professional organizations.

Apart from general appraisal manuals and special appraisal manuals, these materials may also include periodic news bulletins, reference bulletins, a handbook of rules and laws on property tax, and price, cost, and depreciation schedules.

The Tax Code states that the Comptroller is responsible for revising or supplementing these materials to ensure that the information within is current.

The Comptroller is also tasked with ensuring that all appraisal manuals and other materials related to the administration of the property tax system are polished online. They should be made available to all members of the public and local government officials. To offset the costs of writing, printing, and distributing the published materials, the Comptroller may collect a reasonable fee.

Appraisal manuals and cost, price, and depreciation schedules cannot be used as evidence in court if the appraised value of a property is being appealed in a property taxation lawsuit. Appraisal manuals and cost, price, and depreciation schedules may only be used for the purpose of impeachment in the same way as books and treatises.

Tax rate calculation forms

Amendments to Section 5.07 of the Tax Code indicate that the Comptroller is also responsible for prescribing tax rate calculation forms that will be used by designated officers or employees of each taxing unit and school district.

Taxing units and school districts will use these forms to calculate and submit the vo0ter-approval tax rate and the no-new-revenue tax rate for the appraisal district. The Comptroller must ensure that the tax rate calculation forms are available in electronic format and are easy to fill in electronically.

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