Tax Code Section 5.09 directs the Comptroller to publish an annual report on the operations of appraisal districts. This report provides those interested in the Texas local property tax a single point of reference for appraisal district operations and practices, market values, tax rates and tax levies for Texas local governments.
This report summarizes a great volume of data collected by the Comptroller's office, but the Comptroller's office also provides the raw report data in downloadable electronic spreadsheets for use by interested parties. These spreadsheets include appraised values by class of property; the total taxable value for most taxing units; and the tax levy and tax rate for each county, city, school district and special-purpose district in each appraisal district in the state.
This year, the report includes an additional chapter focusing on the work of appraisal review boards (ARBs), which play a vital role in the appraisal process. An ARB is a panel of appointed appraisal district residents that hears taxing unit challenges and taxpayer protests. The Texas Legislature continues to look at ways to ensure the independence and competency of ARB members to assure taxpayers the protest process remains unbiased and independent.
Appraisal districts, also referred to as county, central or consolidated appraisal districts (CADs), are political subdivisions of the state, responsible for appraising property within county boundaries for taxing entities to use in setting their ad valorem tax rates and levying property taxes. Taxable value is a property's appraised value minus all applicable exemptions, deductions and limitations. The tax levy is the total amount of taxes imposed by a taxing unit on taxable property within its boundaries.
The governing bodies of taxing units, such as school boards, commissioners courts, city councils and special district boards of directors, derive the tax rate by dividing the proposed tax levy by the taxable value of property, as provided by the CADs, and expressing it in dollars and cents per $100 of value. The local government's tax assessor applies this rate to the taxable value in its jurisdiction to compute the amount of tax due on each property.
The tax code charges the Comptroller with reviewing each CAD's performance and providing information and technical assistance to CAD boards of directors, ARBs, tax professionals and the public.
An ARB can order corrections to property records and approve the appraisal records. An appraisal record shows the property identification number, the owner's name, the property's appraised value, the value of any exemptions and the taxable value of the property. Each CAD's chief appraiser uses the ARB-approved appraisal records to create an equal and uniform appraisal roll for the taxing entities. A CAD's appraisal roll lists all properties within its boundaries; a taxing unit's appraisal roll lists the same data within its own boundaries.