1.Requires the appraisal review board to schedule an informal hearing at least 5 days prior to the appraisal review board hearing,
2.Provides a mechanism for property owners to object if appraisal review board hearing does not comply with statutory requirements
3.Allows property owners to file a binding arbitration request on the issue of appraisal review board hearings not complying with statutory requirements.
These changes may not seem material. However, I guarantee they are causing many appraisal districts and appraisal review board to reflect deeply on what changes they will be required to make to comply with property-owner friendly sections of the Texas Tax Code in place for 50 years.
This weeks Tax Tips Newsletter will address mandatory informal property tax appeal hearings.
Next week’s newsletter will address the issues and mechanics of appraisal districts and appraisal review boards FINALLY being required to follow the law in appraisal review board hearings. (Hint: the appeals court ruling in “O’Connor versus HCAD” (2006; https://casetext.com/case/hcad-v-oconnor) essentially ruled the taxpayer’s rights’ were maintained if: 1) the ARB showed the taxpayer into a room, 2) let them speak, and 3)gave then a decision. The appeals court apparent thinking was since a homeowner can file for a judicial appeal, it did not matter if the appraisal review board ignored the property owner’s evidence or the Texas hearing procedures. (They conveniently ignored that judicial appeals are financially feasible for only 1 in 200 property owners).
Prior to the current legislative session, informal hearings were not codified in the property tax statutes. Informal hearings were an optional means to quickly settle appeals. Since informal appeals often settle about 65% of the appeals and take less time than an appraisal review board hearing, every appraisal district would utilize them, right? Well, no.
Most appraisal districts used informal hearings as described to quickly and efficiently settle property tax appeals. However, a handful of Texas appraisal districts weaponize informal hearings as follows:
1) we will only give you informal hearings for a small subset the property owners you represent,
2) we will discontinue those informal hearings if you are not flexible enough (i.e. you must agree with the appraisal district for a “reasonable” portion of appeals) and
3) if you don’t play be OUR rules, all your accounts will be send to the appraisal review board (and you know our appraisal review board REALLY likes the appraisal district evidence.)
Next week we will update you on statutory changes codified over 40 years after the current Texas Tax Code was introduced. These changes require appraisal districts and appraisal review boards to follow the laws at appraisal review board hearings. These are amazing improvements and will impact appeal hearings in future years.