Introduction to Appraisal Review Boards
What legal guidelines and precedents do you face as a member of an appraisal review board (ARB)? Who schedules protests and challenges? How do you decide what is a fair ruling on a protest or challenge? What is the limit of your authority? How do you let taxpayers and taxing units know your decisions? These questions and many more are routinely faced by ARB members.
The appraisal district board of directors appoints ARB members. The directors, however, have no authority over how the ARB conducts its business. The ARB is a separate entity from the appraisal office and serves a different function.
The ARB is the first level of review in the property tax system. It is a quasi-judicial entity with responsibility to review appraisals that have been protested by property owners. An appearance before the ARB is often the first time a taxpayer faces a decision-making body of government. The ARB is encouraged to make the experience a positive one by its demeanor and willingness to listen. All ARB members should demonstrate fairness and courtesy in conducting hearings and consider the evidence presented by all parties to the protests.
The ARB may have to interpret the meaning of the Tax Code in some protests. For example, the legal requirements for exemption qualifications may require interpretation. When such interpretation is needed, the ARB should seek legal advice from an attorney.
The ARB only has authority over protests submitted to it and has no role in the day-to-day operations of the appraisal office or in appraising property. It cannot instruct the appraisal staff about how to perform appraisals.
Except when it is deciding a taxpayer protest, taxing unit challenge or a correction motion, the ARB has no authority to change a value or correct the appraisal records directly. In a challenge, the chief appraiser must make the reappraisals or correct the records ordered by the ARB in relation to the challenge. Only in resolving taxpayer protests can the ARB make changes or set a value on its own, and such a change only affects the property in question.
Exhibit 1 lists the most important DOs and DON'Ts that allow ARB members to be successful when conducting a hearing and reviewing evidence.
This manual is designed to help newly appointed ARB members find answers to the many questions they will encounter in their work and to help them perform their duties effectively. The manual provides general information about policy, procedures and legal guidelines. It outlines official responsibilities, available resources and the chronology of the review process. The manual also serves as the official training course that new ARB members must take before participating in ARB hearings. This manual is not the same as the continuing education course that ARB members must take after taking this course, and it is not and cannot be substituted for that course.
The Comptroller's office is required to develop a continuing education course that must be completed by ARB members as soon as practicable during the second year of their terms. ARB members cannot be reappointed to the ARB unless they complete the continuing education course. They must successfully complete the course each year they continue to serve. The newly mandated continuing education course required to continue serving on the ARB covers appraisal and legal issues in greater detail.
Neither this manual nor the continuing education course addresses every situation you may face as an ARB member. You should not rely solely on these manuals for answers to the many questions that arise. This manual is only a guide to train new ARB members as they begin their work. Please consult with your attorney about legal issues in protest hearings, the development of ARB hearing procedures and any other matter requiring interpretation of law.
This manual and more information about local property taxes are available on the Comptroller's Web site at: window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/proptax/. The Comptroller's office is continually developing new online technological assistance to improve the operations of ARBs, so it is a good idea to bookmark this page as a valuable resource.
Pursuant to law, the Comptroller's office has installed a toll-free telephone line dedicated to serving ARB members. If you need assistance regarding technical questions relating to the duties and responsibilities of ARB members and property appraisal issues, please call (800) 252-7551 and leave a message. A Property Tax Assistance Division (PTAD) staff person will contact you with the information you need.
Appraisal Review Board DOs and DON'Ts
Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, 2010
While the Comptroller's office can offer technical assistance, the law forbids it from advising an ARB member, property owner, owner's agent, appraisal district employee or public official on any matter that the Comptroller's office knows is subject to a protest to the ARB.
You may e-mail general questions to:
Sign up to receive Comptroller's office e-mail updates on the topics of your choice at:
Address general questions to PTAD by writing to:Property Tax Assistance Division
P.O. Box 13528
Austin, TX 78711-3528
or by calling