Property Tax Assistance Division
Director's Quarterly Update
to Property Tax Professionals
As part of Texas Comptroller Susan Combs' continuing efforts to reach out to help property owners and local governmental entities, the Property Tax Assistance Division (PTAD) has unveiled many new programs and informational resources. One of these exciting new initiatives is the Director's Quarterly Update.
In the inaugural issue, we review some of PTAD's innovative ways to offer assistance and look at plans to continue improving PTAD's service to you.
We're Off And Running!
In May, the Comptroller's office released its first Internet video to help taxpayers protest the value assigned to their properties. The first video titled How to Present Your Case at an Appraisal Review Board Hearing is a general guide to homeowners, covering the most common situations that happen before an ARB. The local press around the state noted the video's release and directed property owners to it on our Web site. This was only the first of several videos to come. PTAD also produced an Appraisal District Board of Directors Training video to assist newly appointed board of directors members in learning more about a board member's duties and responsibilities. The training also serves as a refresher course for members who have been on the board for some time.
Another new release, Wildlife Management Use and Reporting Requirements, is an online video that discusses new Comptroller rules related to wildlife management use and provides an overview of wildlife management plans and their requirements. PTAD will also hold a similar webinar on this topic in October.
Other informative videos PTAD produced include Truth-in-Taxation for School Districts and Truth-in-Taxation for Other Taxing Units, which are part of the government transparency laws and give taxpayers the right to know how their property taxes are being calculated. Both of these videos helped tax assessor-collectors, who could not attend the Truth-in-Taxation Seminars, calculate their effective and rollback tax rates.
In addition to the videos, PTAD conducted two webinars to inform appraisal districts, tax assessor-collectors and ARBs on changes in property tax laws. The webinar titled Legislative Update for County Appraisal Districts and Appraisal Review Boards provided updates on 2009 legislative actions that affect appraisal districts and ARBs. A second webinar, titled Legislative Update for Tax Assessor-Collectors provided updates that affect property tax assessor-collectors. Both had good attendance for first- time webinars.
Further outreach endeavors were created to assist local governments and taxpayers. The Appraisal District Repository is a centralized location of resources for appraisal districts to compare policies and procedures with other appraisal districts. Copies of reappraisal plans, board of directors policies, personnel policies, ARB procedures and cost schedules for residential, commercial, land and personal property make up the first collection of information in the repository. More will be added over the coming two years.
To keep customers apprised of new resources, PTAD created Alerts, which are e-mail bulletins, sometimes daily, mostly weekly to appraisal districts, tax assessor-collectors, businesses, property owners and others about new resources available on PTAD's Web site. PTAD also created a new online resource, Frequently Asked Questions, concerning the new homestead exemption for 100 percent disabled veterans.
As part of the Comptroller's efforts to invite input from local officials, PTAD organized nearly a dozen ad hoc committees that provide advice on binding arbitration, ARB training, appraisal activities, etc. The committee on binding arbitration is comprised of legislative and appraisal district staff and was created to discuss new legislation and arbitration rule changes. The committee's main purpose is to provide direction to PTAD for effectively implementing recent legislation. The second ad hoc committee on ARB training is comprised of ARB members, chief appraisers and CAD staff and was created to discuss and provide direction to PTAD for effectively implementing recent legislation and developing advanced training materials.
Additional Web site entries include Attorney General Opinions, which provides recent Attorney General opinions concerning property tax issues, and Courts of Appeals Decisions, which are briefs of recent Courts of Appeals decisions concerning property tax issues. Check the Resource Spotlight section on our Web site regularly for updates and links.
The Annual Property Tax Institute (PTI) presented breakout sessions on updates on new legislation; appraisal district reviews; reappraisal plans; and ARB evidence consideration, as well as several other sessions. The Institute was held Sept. 24-25.
Planned Activities Over The Next Six Months
PTAD will continue to conduct webinars, including Property Value Study (PVS) Basics, which will help ensure the state distributes funds for public schools equitably. If you want to refresh your knowledge about how the PVS works, this is a webinar for you. This webinar is geared specifically toward chief appraisers and appraisal district staff. In October, we will have a Wildlife Management webinar which will discuss new Comptroller rules and give appraisal district staff the opportunity to ask questions they may have after viewing the agency's Wildlife Management video.
The Tips on Reappraisal Plans webinar in November delves into the reappraisal plan required by Tax Code Section 25.18. Appraisal districts may take different approaches in complying with these requirements, and this webinar may provide appraisal districts with different planning options. More than 200 examples of reappraisal plans can be found in the Appraisal District Repository, and appraisal districts can use these plans as examples to assist them in the future development of plans for their jurisdictions.
Another webinar in December, How to Read Your Property Value Study Reports, explains how to read the preliminary and final PVS reports issued each year. This webinar should be of interest to both chief appraisers looking for a refresher course and new or first time school district superintendents going through their first PVS.
First the first time, PTAD will be conducting two different types of ARB seminars. The first is a comprehensive, introductory class aimed at new ARB members, and the second is an advanced ARB class aimed at continuing ARB members. Both seminars will be telecast to all regional education service centers around the state. Dates, locations and times for the seminars will be posted on our Web site by November for classes in March and April 2010. Registration is mandatory to get credit for completing the courses.
Other exciting videos include the 2010 Truth-in-Taxation for School Districts and Truth-in-Taxation for Other Taxing Units, which will be updates of the previous videos on these topics.
And as many of you already know, the Comptroller's office is going to start reviewing half of all appraisal districts every year, starting in January 2010. PTAD will conduct two webinars on the Methods and Assistance Program reviews in December. Look to our Web site for dates and times.
The ever-popular and constantly growing FAQs will be loaded into a searchable database in the near future and placed on our Web site. Look for an announcement in your e-mail boxes soon.
PTAD is committed to fulfilling Comptroller Susan Combs' vision of efficiency and transparency in government This means providing information to customers who need property tax assistance in the most accessible manner possible, including use of the latest technologies offered by the Internet.
PTAD is also committed to its mission of assisting local property taxpayers, appraisal districts, appraisal review boards, tax assessor-collectors and elected officials to ensure property tax administration is uniform and fair statewide. This assistance is designed to ensure local government and taxpayers retain control of this form of taxation.
If you have comments or questions, please contact PTAD director Debbie Cartwright by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (512) 936-4251. She represented appraisal districts as an attorney for more than 20 years and began work with Comptroller Combs in January 2009. She is committed to improvements in property tax administration for the future and welcomes your input.