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Chapter 9. Property Tax Administration

Subchapter A. Practice and Procedure.

 Sec. 9.17. Notice of Public Hearing on Tax Increase.

(a) A taxing unit that is required by the Tax Code, 26.06, to publish a notice of public hearing on a proposed tax increase shall use the form and wording of Model Form 50-197 in publishing the notice.

(b) The comptroller adopts Model Form 50-197, as amended in April 2000, by reference. Copies of this form are available for inspection at the offices of the Texas Register or may be obtained from the Comptroller of Public Accounts, P.O. Box 13528, Austin, Texas 78711. Copies may also be requested by calling our toll-free number 1-800-252-9121. In Austin, call 305-9999. From a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD), call 1-800-248-4099, toll free. In Austin, the local TDD number is 463-4621.

 Sec. 9.18. Adjustment for Optional Homestead Exemption.

(a) Definitions. The following words and terms, when used in this section, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

(1) Maintenance and operations component - the amount calculated by the Texas Education Agency "Worksheet to Assist Districts in Calculating Rollback Rate," which includes an adjustment for the amount of state funds received for the optional homestead exemption.

(2) Current total value - the amount calculated under Tax Code, 26.012(6) and 26.08(h).

(b) For the purposes of computing a rollback tax rate under Tax Code, 26.08, a school district shall reduce the district's tax rate limit to reflect the assistance received for optional homestead exemption assistance provided by Education Code, 42.2522. The tax rate limit is reduced as follows:

Maintenance and Operations Component
----------- (divided by) -----------
Current Total Value

 Sec. 9.101. Conduct of the Property Value Study.

(a) Definitions. The following words and terms, when used in this subchapter, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

(1) Appraisal - A statement that estimates the market value or other legally required value of property.

(2) Appraisal ratio - The ratio of a property's appraised value as determined by the appraisal office or appraisal review board (the County Appraisal District (CAD)) value, as applicable to:

(A) the sale price of the property; or

(B) an independent appraisal of the property, as applicable.

(3) Appraiser - A comptroller employee or contractor who conducts appraisals for the property value study.

(4) Assigned value - The value of property determined in the property value study.

(5) Coefficient of dispersion - The absolute average deviation of appraisal ratios in a sample from the median appraisal ratio for the sample, expressed as a percentage of the median.

(6) Comptroller - The Comptroller of Public Accounts or the Comptroller of Public Accounts designee.

(7) Confirm - A sale is confirmed when the comptroller has documented that the sale price for a property is correct.

(8) Documentary evidence - Writings such as letters, memoranda, appraisal records, or deeds.

(9) Local property - Property other than utility, industrial, mineral, or 1-d or 1-d-1 qualified agricultural property.

(10) Median appraisal ratio - The median level of appraisal is the median appraisal ratio of a sample of properties collected as part of the school district taxable value study in an appraisal district. The median appraisal ratio for a sample of properties is, in a numerically ordered list of the appraisal ratios for the properties:

(A) if the sample contains an odd number of properties, the appraisal ratio above and below which there is an equal number of appraisal ratios in the list; or

(B) if the sample contains an even number of properties, the average of the two consecutive appraisal ratios above and below which there is an equal number of appraisal ratios in the list.

(11) Price related differential - The price related differential is the mean of a property sample divided by the weighted mean of that sample.

(12) Property value study - The studies conducted by the comptroller pursuant to Government Code, 403.302 and Tax Code, 5.10.

(13) Random sample - A sample in which each item of the population has an equal chance of being included.

(14) Representative sample - Representative means composed of individual properties that collectively reflect the individual characteristics of the population from which they were drawn. A representative sample meets the requirements for operational representativeness set forth in the International Association of Assessing Officers' Standard on Ratio Studies.

(15) Sale - A transfer of property for consideration.

(16) Sale date - The date on which a deed or other document transferring title to real property by sale is executed.

(17) Sample - A group of properties analyzed to determine characteristics of property in a school or appraisal district.

(18) Stratification - Stratification divides the range of information for property in a district or property category into intervals and lists the number and CAD value of properties falling into each interval.

(19) Stratified weighted mean appraisal ratio - A stratified weighted mean appraisal ratio is calculated by separating the properties in a category sample into subcategories by value range or other property characteristics (strata) and determining the weighted mean appraisal ratio for each of the strata. The value of property in each of the strata is calculated by dividing the total CAD value by the weighted mean appraisal ratio. These individual market value estimates are then added to produce a market value estimate for the total category sample. The total CAD value of property in the category is then divided by the total category market value estimate to produce the stratified weighted mean ratio.

(20) Verify - A sale is verified when the comptroller has documented that a sale is a market value transaction as defined by the Tax Code, 1.04(7).

(21) Weighted mean appraisal ratio - The weighted mean appraisal ratio is a number calculated by dividing the total CAD value of property in a sample by the total of corresponding sale prices or appraised values of property in that sample.

(b) General statement of policy. The study constitutes a limited audit of the taxable value of property in the districts. The purpose of this section is to ensure that sufficient competent and relevant evidence affords a reasonable basis for the comptroller's judgments and conclusions regarding the taxable value of property in a school district and the appropriate measures of appraisal level and uniformity in an appraisal district.

(c) General standard. Except where inconsistent with these sections, the Standard on Ratio Studies, International Association of Assessing Officers, is adopted by reference as a standard for the conduct of the property value study.

(d) Changing appraisal methods. The comptroller will consult regularly with representatives of property owners, industries, appraisal firms, and other interested parties to keep abreast of changing appraisal methods.

(e) Selection of property categories studied. The priority in determining categories of samples is the accuracy of the estimate of taxable property value for each school district in this state.

(1) The comptroller may determine whether a category or class of property in a school district is a major category or class of property on a case-by-case basis. To maximize accuracy or efficient use of resources, the comptroller may decline to sample or estimate category values or measures.

(2) If the comptroller does not sample a category or a subcategory of property in a school district, the comptroller may calculate the district's taxable value by using the district's locally reported value to represent the value of the unsampled category.

(f) Taxpayer data. Owners of large unique or complex properties should be advised if these properties are included in the property value study. Taxpayers shall have the option of presenting data to the comptroller to verify the CAD value as representative of market value for inclusion in the study. The comptroller shall have the option of accepting the indicated market value for inclusion in the property value study.

(g) Determining taxable value. The procedures for determining the taxable value of certain classes of property are as follows:

(1) Agricultural land qualified for productivity appraisal. The comptroller may determine the productivity value of land qualified for productivity appraisal in a school district through direct appraisal. The staff shall estimate an average value per acre for each land class in each school district using information provided by published sources and by individuals knowledgeable concerning local agricultural conditions. The estimated average productivity value per acre shall be developed using the same methods applicable to appraisal districts under 9.4001 of this title (relating to Valuation of Open-space and Agricultural Lands). The estimated value per acre shall be applied to the total number of acres in each land class reported in the school district report of property value to determine the total value of property in each class. The sum of the values of each class is the total value of agricultural property receiving productivity appraisal in the school district.

(2) Timber land qualified for productivity appraisal. The comptroller may determine the productivity value of land qualified for timber appraisal in a school district through direct appraisal. The staff shall estimate an average value per acre for each soil class and type of timber in each school district using information provided by published sources and by individuals knowledgeable concerning local timber production. The estimated average productivity value per acre shall be developed using the same methods applicable to appraisal districts under 9.4011 of this title (relating to Appraisal of Timberlands). The estimated value per acre shall be applied to the total number of acres in each soil class for each type of timber reported in the school district report of property value to determine the total value of property in each class. The sum of the values of each class is the total value of timber property receiving productivity appraisal in the school district.

(3) Utility property. Utility samples in a school district are chosen using a method that ensures sampling dominant properties and other properties as appropriate. Utilities shall be valued using recognized unitary valuation methods, that may include one or more of the cost, income, and market (sales comparison or stock and debt) approaches. Utility unit values will be allocated using generally accepted allocation methods based on the best information available. Appraisers shall consider the effects of regulation, if applicable.

(4) Industrial property. If the comptroller appraises an industrial property, the property shall be valued using generally accepted appraisal methods. If staff selects an industrial property sample, the property sample shall be selected without regard to whether the appraisal district performs its own industrial property appraisals.

(5) Mineral property. Mineral samples in a school district shall be chosen using a method that ensures sampling dominant leases and a sample of other leases as appropriate. Minerals shall be appraised using generally accepted appraisal methods, emphasizing the income approach to value.

(6) Local property. The comptroller shall make its determination of local property values on the basis of representative samples of property selected within school districts. Except as provided in this section, the comptroller shall select samples of properties based on their judgment of the number and kind of properties required to be sampled to reasonably reflect the taxable value of property in each school district. The comptroller staff are not required to but may employ random sampling or other sampling procedures where feasible and appropriate.

(A) Estimated sample sizes shall initially be assigned by supervisory staff. The overall goal in setting the sample size is to obtain school district taxable values that are acceptably accurate and reliable. The sample size assigned for a particular category of property in a particular school district is based on the available comptroller time, the availability of current sales, variability of ratios, and the relative value of the category. A sample may be larger or smaller than the assigned sample if the school district's resulting taxable value is determined by supervisory staff to be acceptably accurate and reliable.

(B) Samples may include a combination of sales and appraisals that satisfies both size and representativeness requirements. However, a sample may consist of sales only or appraisals only. All meaningful property characteristics shall be considered in selecting non-random samples The following guidelines should be followed in non-random selection:

(i) the sample should not be weighted in favor of sold properties that are appraised at a different level from unsold properties;

(ii) a sample should include properties from each primary geographic area, if the geographic area contains a significant number of the kind of property being tested and the property has significant value;

(iii) a sample should include improvements of varying ages;

(iv) sample selection should consider other property characteristics such as construction type, size, use, and business type, as required;

(v) stratification information should be used to ensure that samples are representative. If stratification data are unavailable, an appraiser should use informed judgment and knowledge of the area in a reasonable effort to ensure that samples are representative.

(C) Appraisers shall categorize sample properties as they are categorized by appraisal districts (Category A, B, C, etc.).

(D) Appraisers should develop a sales population to maintain a thorough knowledge of local markets and appraisal practices; and to provide a population of sales from which to select property samples. Appraisers should gather sales that occurred over as broad a time period as practicable and should gather sales from a variety of sources, such as appraisal districts, real estate professionals, title companies, financial institutions, courthouse records, and other reliable sources.

(i) As a general rule, if an appraiser's sample size is less than all the sales within a relevant time period, the sales sample will be selected randomly. However, other sample selection methods may be used.

(ii) The appraiser must document the source of each sale included in the property value study. The appraiser must use codes provided in the appraisal guide to identify the source of each sale entered into the comptroller sale/appraisal system. The appraiser must maintain sufficient written documentation to permit source verification upon request.

(iii) The appraiser must confirm and verify at least 20% of the sales included in each category sample for each school district from sources other than the appraisal district.

(iv) Sales included in a sample must be market transactions. Market transactions are consistent with the definition of market value found in the Tax Code, 1.04(7). For the purposes of that section, the term "price" means the most probable price. As provided in the Standard on Ratio Studies, International Association of Assessing Officers, transactions that may be non-arm's-length sales should be clearly identified and used only if it can be established that they are consistent with the definition of market value.

(v) If an appraiser questions whether a transaction selected for use in the study is a market sale, the appraiser should obtain sales agreements, closing statements, statements from parties to the transaction, deed records that disclose full consideration, or other evidence sufficient to determine whether or not the transaction is a market transaction.

(vi) The appraiser must exclude sales of properties that change category or significant physical characteristics after the sale but before the assessment date.

(vii) The appraiser may not exclude a sale solely because it appears to be inconsistent with other sales in the sample. Such sales should be verified. The inconsistencies may indicate that a sale is not a market transaction, but they also may indicate that information regarding the sale was recorded incorrectly. If further investigation reveals that the sale was indeed a legitimate market transaction, the appraiser may include it in the sample, despite its apparent inconsistency. If the investigation, however, reveals that the sale was not a legitimate market transaction, the sale should be excluded.

(viii) Generally, when financing reflects prevailing market practices and interest rates, sales prices require no adjustment. Adjustments should be considered if:

(I) the seller and lender are the same party and financing is not at prevailing market rates;

(II) the buyer assumes an existing mortgage at a non-market rate of interest; or

(III) lenders charge the seller "points" (a percentage of the loan amount) for making money available to the purchaser/borrower.

(ix) Some forms of mortgage terms also may require adjustment. If these adjustments alter the sales price significantly, the use of the sale as a good indicator of market value may be questionable.

(x) The appraiser shall adjust sales samples for the effect of time if there is evidence of a significant value increase or decrease during the period from which sales are drawn. The appraiser must document the procedures used to develop time adjustments. As an alternative to time adjustment, the appraiser may randomly select samples so that the value of properties sold during a specified period before the assessment date roughly approximates the value of properties sold during a similar period after the assessment date. A sample balanced in this manner will negate the effect of changes in the level of market values if those changes occurred uniformly over the study time frame.

(xi) The comptroller may use a method of adjusting for financing, time, personal property, or other matters affecting the sales price, that includes an overall adjustment affecting all or any relevant portion of the sales in the sample.

(xii) If the comptroller determines that recently sold properties are appraised by the appraisal district at a different level of value than unsold properties, the comptroller may take actions to ensure that the unsold properties are fairly represented in the sample. These actions may include using appraisals in the sample, using sales that occurred after the appraisal district certified the school district tax rolls in the sample, deleting sales from the sample, or other adjustments the comptroller deems necessary to maintain the integrity of the property value study.

(E) Appraisals of local property are performed if the comptroller determines they are necessary to ensure the study develops competent evidence of the value of all property in the school district. Appraisals are used to ensure a representative sample of sufficient size and to test whether sold and unsold properties are assessed at the same level. The following guidelines govern the use of appraisals:

(i) appraisal samples shall be selected randomly if practicable;

(ii) appraisals shall be conducted using generally accepted appraisal practices. The comptroller shall prepare an appraisal guide and other procedures as needed to conduct appraisals. Accurate and verifiable data from the market is usually preferable to information contained in the guide. Such information should be used in appraisals to the greatest extent possible. The guide and any other written instructions are open records. Supervisory staff shall selectively test appraisals to ensure the consistency and accuracy of data throughout the state;

(iii) appraisers should physically inspect each property appraised. If acreage or lots cannot be physically inspected, the appraiser may use appraisal cards, aerial photographs, soil maps, and other relevant information in performing appraisals;

(iv) in appraising a particular property, the appraiser may not consider the value placed on that property by the appraisal district. However, the appraiser may consult with appraisal district staff and review appraisal district records to gather information relevant to the appraisal;

(v) the market value estimate for a particular property account must include the value of all property associated with that account, e.g., multiple improvements, paving, outbuildings, signs, business vehicles, additional lots, etc. The appraiser may use the appraisal district's value for any item(s) that the appraiser is unable to appraise if the item(s) in question represent an insignificant portion of the appraisal district's total appraised value for the account.

(h) Local reports of taxable value. Local reports of taxable value are essential parts of the property value study. The comptroller shall issue and revise report forms as needed to incorporate necessary legal and technical changes. The comptroller shall thoroughly review and revise reports of property value as needed to ensure their reliability. The comptroller must document the date of and reasons for each revision. Between the time a report is filed and the time preliminary study findings based upon the report are issued, the reporting entity may request changes in the report. The comptroller may not make the requested changes in reported values or facts unless the reporting entity provides sufficient competent evidence supporting a change. The comptroller shall set reasonable deadlines for the return of local reports and may grant extensions of filing time of up to 30 days.

(i) Protest or request for audit. A protest or request for an audit of the Property Value Study findings may be made in accordance with Property Tax Division sections.

(j) Determination of school district value. School district taxable values shall be determined in a manner that maximizes the accuracy and reliability of the taxable value in each school district.

(1) The taxable value of a category of property in a school district shall be determined by dividing the total locally appraised value of property in that category by the weighted mean or stratified weighted mean ratio for the sample of property selected from that category. However, the taxable value of property in a category may be determined by other methods if it is determined that sufficient competent evidence requires their use.

(2) The taxable value of property in a school district shall be determined by adding together the taxable value of property in each category of property in the school district and subtracting from the total the items listed in the Government Code, 403.302(d). However, the taxable value of property in a school district may be determined by other methods if it is determined that sufficient competent evidence requires their use.

(k) Determination of appraisal district measures. Appraisal district measures shall be determined from the sales and appraisals gathered as a part of the school district taxable value study.

(1) The median level of appraisal for each category of property in the appraisal district and for the appraisal district as a whole is determined as provided by the Tax Code, 5.10.

(2) The coefficient of dispersion for each category of property in the appraisal district and for the appraisal district as a whole is determined as provided by the Tax Code, 5.10.

(3) The comptroller may determine and report other measures of appraisal accuracy and uniformity it deems useful and informative.

 Sec. 9.102. Certification of Property Value Reduction.

The public may, at any time, provide information or input to the comptroller concerning the certification to the Texas Education Agency of each school district's property value reduction caused by electric utility restructuring by writing the Manager, Property Tax Division or the manager's designee at Comptroller of Public Accounts, Property Tax Division, Post Office Box 13528, Austin, Texas 78711-3528 or by calling 1-800-252-9121.

 Sec. 9.103. Audits of School District Taxable Property Values.

(a) Definitions.

(1) Taxable value audit means an investigation or review made to determine if the certified property value study findings of a school district's taxable property value under Government Code, Chapter 403, should be changed to correct clerical errors in the comptroller's records, and to reflect changes in local tax rolls that occurred after the school district's most recent property value report to the comptroller for the property value study year that is the subject of the audit request.

(2) Recapitulation means one or more computer-generated summaries of appraisal roll information that:

(A) are designed for purposes other than this audit;

(B) are produced by an appraisal district or a taxing unit that collects for the school district; and

(C) on the effective date show certified values for each type of exemption, other value losses, each property category, and each land class matching the values shown in the amended School District Report of Property Value and Report on Value Lost Because of the School Tax Limitation on Homesteads of the Elderly submitted with the audit request.

(3) Property value study year means the year for which the comptroller certified the school district's final taxable value that is the subject of the taxable value audit.

(4) Effective date means the single date for which all values and other reported information subject to the taxable value audit are correct.

(b) Taxable value audit requestors.

(1) A school district may request an audit of its taxable value finding determined by the comptroller and certified to the commissioner of education under Government Code 403.302(g); or

(2) the commissioner of education may request an audit of any school district's taxable value finding determined by the comptroller and certified to the commissioner of education under Government Code 403.302(g).

(c) Taxable value audit request. A request for a taxable value audit by a school district must be made to the Manager of the Property Tax Division in writing on the Request for School District Taxable Value Audit (form 50-302). A request for a taxable value audit from the commissioner of education must be made to the Manager of Property Tax Division in any written form and signed by the commissioner. At the time of submission, a school district request must include all documentation necessary for staff to complete the audit. A school district for which an audit is requested by the commissioner of education must submit all documentation that would be required in a school district request within 30 days of notification by the Property Tax Division that a request for audit was made. A complete request must:

(1) name the school district for which the taxable value audit is requested;

(2) be signed by the school superintendent;

(3) name one agent who may be the school superintendent or any person designated by the superintendent or the commissioner of education, as appropriate, who will be the primary point of contact for all correspondence and questions regarding the audit;

(4) state the property value study year in question;

(5) state one effective date;

(6) include an amended School District Report of Property Value, signed by the authorized official or agent, that correctly incorporates each applicable correction, accompanied by a statement summarizing the reasons for the corrections;

(7) include an amended Report on Value Lost Because of the School Tax Limitation on Homesteads of the Elderly, signed by the chief appraiser or school district agent, that correctly incorporates each applicable correction, accompanied by a statement summarizing the reasons for the corrections;

(8) include for appraisal districts that store appraisal roll information electronically, a computer-generated recapitulation;

(9) include for appraisal districts in which a recapitulation is not available, an appraisal review board change order, correction, or supplement for each property changed since the date of the last School District Report of Property Value submitted to the comptroller, accompanied by the certification from the chief appraiser that communicated each change to the taxing unit, along with a copy of the tax record showing the original and amended value for each property changed for the tax year subject to the audit; and

(10) include a Chief Appraiser Affidavit of Value for School District Audit model form 50- 303 (with the exception of audit requests filed after June 1 of the third year following the property value study year that pertain solely to final determinations in court cases).

(d) Number of requests and request deadline. Up to three separate taxable value audit requests pertaining to the same property value study year may be submitted at any time after the comptroller certifies final values to the commissioner of education, but must be filed before July 1 of the third year following certification. Requests will be timely if received by the comptroller's property tax division manager:

(1) by personal delivery on or before June 30;

(2) by United States mail if sent by regular first-class mail, properly addressed with postage prepaid and bearing a post office cancellation mark on or before June 30; or

(3) by express mail corporation in a properly addressed envelope or wrapper, showing a legible date to prove delivery to the express mail corporation on or before June 30.

(e) Deadline extension. The taxable value audit request deadline provided in subsection (d) of this section may be extended only to reflect:

(1) final determinations in court cases that occurred after June 1 of the third year following the property value study year for which the school district provides the final judgments with the audit request; or

(2) appraisal review board actions, and actions taken under Property Tax Code 25.25, that:

(A) occurred after June 1 of the third year following the property value study year;

(B) are submitted to the comptroller's property tax division by July 1 of the year following the property value study year in which the actions occurred as part of an audit request that meets all the requirements of this section; and

(C) total more than $20 million or 2.0% of the most recent taxable value in the school district as determined under Government Code 403.302 or 403.303, for the property value study year in question, whichever is least.

(f) Incomplete requests. A request that omits any item listed in subsection (c) of this section is incomplete. If items described in subsection (c)(7)-(9) of this section, or acreage breakdowns on the School District Report of Property Value, are unavailable to the district, are not material to the corrections requested, and do not result in a materially incorrect taxable value for the district, staff may make corrections based on items in subsection (c) of this section that were provided by the district and may not make corrections for items not provided by the district.

(g) Additional information. Comptroller staff may request additional information from the school district, its appraisal district, or any other source as needed to complete the taxable value audit. If the school district, or its appraisal district does not provide the additional information within 30 days of the staff request, comptroller staff may deny any adjustments related to the additional information without notice. The 30-day period may be extended for an additional 30 days if the school district cannot obtain the information within the original 30 days for reasons outside the school district's control.

(h) Prior proceeding. In conducting a taxable value audit, comptroller staff shall consider whether the matter presented in the taxable value audit request has been finally resolved in a prior audit or audit request, property value study protest, or judicial proceeding. If so, the staff may base its taxable value audit finding on the result of that prior audit or audit request, property value study protest, or judicial proceeding.

(i) Audit conduct. The comptroller's primary goals in conducting the taxable value audit are to update the property value study and make the study more accurate. Consequently, comptroller staff may accept numerical documentation with nominal internal inconsistencies, reject numerical documentation that leads to unreasonable results, and otherwise exercise sound judgment in arriving at the most accurate total taxable value in the school district. Comptroller staff may conduct the taxable value audit by reviewing the required documentation submitted with the audit request, or may include a review of the relevant records by personal inspection at the tax office, appraisal office, or any other public office.

(j) Amending an audit request. An audit request may be amended at any time prior to the date of the issuance of the preliminary finding but may not be amended to change the effective date of the audit. A change in an effective date must be submitted as part of a new audit request.

(k) Withdrawal of audit request. An audit request may be withdrawn at any time before the comptroller issues a preliminary audit finding if the comptroller's property tax division manager determines that the withdrawal will not cause a significant adverse effect on the accuracy of the property value study. After the preliminary audit finding is issued, the audit request may be withdrawn only with the approval of the comptroller's hearing examiner.

(l) Taxable value certification and protest. After considering all the relevant information submitted by the school district and from other reliable sources, comptroller staff shall recalculate the school district's total taxable value and certify a preliminary taxable value audit finding to the commissioner of education. The total taxable value certified in the preliminary taxable value audit finding may be greater than, less than, or the same as the most recent total taxable value certified to the commissioner of education under Government Code 403.302 or 403.303, for the property value study year subject to the taxable value audit, but shall not affect the validity presumption used in that certification. A school district may protest the preliminary taxable value audit finding by following the procedures prescribed in 9.109.

(m) Audit request acceptance. The comptroller may not accept a taxable value audit request, or any part of an audit request, if the audit request:

(1) does not meet the requirements of this section;

(2) subject to subsection (f) of this section lacks any material item required in subsection (c) of this section or required by the model forms;

(3) raises an issue previously determined in a protest of preliminary findings of value;

(4) asks for corrections that duplicate corrections requested in a previous audit for which the comptroller has issued a final finding; or

(5) involves a property value study year for which the relevant comptroller records, computer programs, or property value study procedures do not exist or cannot accurately be replicated.

(n) Audit request resubmission. A taxable value audit request that was not accepted may be brought into compliance and resubmitted before the July 1 deadline of the third year following the certification of the property value study year in question.

(o) Effective date. This section applies to all taxable value audit requests submitted after June 30, 2003.

(p) The model forms in paragraph (1) and (2) of this subsection are adopted by reference by the Comptroller of Public Accounts. Copies of these forms are available for inspection at the office of the Texas Register or can be obtained from the Comptroller of Public Accounts, Property Tax Division, P.O. Box 13528, Austin, Texas 78711-3528. Copies may also be requested by calling our toll-free number 1-800-252-9121. In Austin, call (512) 305-9999. From a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD), call 1-800-248-4099, toll free. In Austin, the local TDD number is (512) 463-4621.

(1) Request for School District Taxable Value Audit (Form 50-302); and

(2) Chief Appraiser Affidavit of Value for School District Audit (Form 50-303).

 Sec. 9.105. Tax Refund for Economic Development.

(a) Definitions. The following words and terms, when used in this section, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

(1) Appraised value - The chief appraiser's opinion as to the market value on a specific appraisal date.

(2) Compliance - Conforming to all the terms of an abatement agreement.

(3) Management review - Review by comptroller management staff of the denial of a refund based on the facts present.

(4) Taxes paid - The franchise tax and state sales and use tax paid directly to the state, and state sales and use tax that is paid to a seller or collected from customers and remitted to the state, minus any applicable tax credits.

(5) Entered into - Same as executed. An agreement is entered into when it has been approved by the appropriate governing body and signed and dated by all parties.

(6) Initial base comparison year - The calendar year in which the tax abatement is entered into or executed.

(b) Tax refund for economic development.

(1) Eligible property and taxes. An eligible person is entitled to a refund of taxes paid and postmarked in a calendar year, not to exceed the amount for which the person paid ad valorem taxes to a school district in that calendar year on property that:

(A) is located in a reinvestment zone established under the Tax Code, Chapter 312;

(B) is exempt in whole or in part from the ad valorem taxes imposed by a municipality or a county under a tax abatement agreement entered into after January 1, 1996, with the municipality or county under the Tax Code, Chapter 312; and

(C) is not subject to a tax abatement agreement entered into by the school district.

(2) Limitations on refunds.

(A) The amount of the refund that can be paid by the comptroller in a calendar year is limited to the amount of taxes paid and postmarked, as the term is defined in subsection (a)(4) of this section, by the person after any applicable tax credit. A person who receives a tax abatement refund under this section, and who later receives a refund, credit, or other adjustment of the amount of "taxes paid and postmarked" on which the tax abatement refund was based, may be required to return a portion of that tax abatement refund.

(B) The refund period is limited to the lesser of:

(i) five years; or

(ii) the duration of the tax abatement agreement entered into with a municipality or county.

(3) Eligibility for the refund.

(A) To be eligible for the refund, a person must have paid in full, by single or multiple payments, ad valorem taxes to the school district and:

(i) established a new business in the reinvestment zone;

(ii) expanded an existing business in the reinvestment zone; or

(iii) modernized an existing business located in the reinvestment zone to retain jobs for employees of the business.

(B) The business must have had:

(i) since the date of the tax abatement agreement with a municipality or county, an increase of $3 million in the business' payroll, specific to property located in this state according to records filed by the business with the Texas Workforce Commission; or

(ii) an increase of at least $4 million in appraised value of the business' property subject to the tax abatement agreement from an initial base comparison year beginning on or after January 1, 1996.

(C) The following is an example of how the refund available under this subsection will be administered.

REFUND AVAILABLE

  1996 1997 1998 1999
1. Total appraised value of property subject to the abatement agreement $1 million $26 million $51 million $55 million
2. Base year appraised value of property subject to the abatement agreement NA $1 million $1 million $1 million
3. Value after base year deduction NA $25 million $50 million $54 million
4. Abatement agreement value that would not have been subject to school district property tax had you been in an abatement agreement
[Multiply #3 by % abatement (50%)]
  $12.5 million $25 million $27 million
5. School tax rate $1.00 / $100 $1.02 / $100 $1.04 / $100 $1.06 / $100
6. Potential refund amount based on 50% abatement agreement* N/A $130,000 $260,000 $286,200
7. Amount of property tax paid to the school district $10,000 $265,200 $530,400 $583,000
8. State taxes paid in a calendar year N/A $300,000 $500,000 $600,000

* Corporation A's refund is limited to 50% of the school taxes paid minus the amount of school taxes paid on base year value in calendar year.
The initial base comparison year is 1996 (the base comparison year must begin on or after January 1, 1996). Since the valuation on January 1, 1997, is greater than the valuation at the 1996 base year by more than $4 million, and Corporation A meets all other statutory requirements, Corporation A qualifies for a refund of state taxes paid.
Refunds for property tax years 1997-1999 would also be available if Corporation A had qualified based on a payroll increase of $3 million between the date the agreement was entered into and the date the refund application was filed.

(4) Application for refund.

(A) An application for the refund must:

(i) be made on a form prescribed by the comptroller and properly completed;

(ii) include an attached copy of the tax receipt from the assessor and collector of taxes for the school district showing full payment of school district ad valorem taxes on the property for the tax year for which the refund is sought;

(iii) include an attached copy of the tax abatement agreement entered into with the municipality or county;

(iv) include an attached signed statement from the county appraisal district's chief appraiser verifying that an exemption from property tax was granted and showing the current appraised value, the initial base comparison year and the beginning or initial base comparison year's appraised value of the property subject to the abatement agreement;

(v) include an attached statement from each applicable city or county official verifying that the abatement agreement has been filed with the state entity responsible for maintaining a registry of tax abatements;

(vi) include attached copies of Texas Workforce Commission returns for the calendar year the agreement was entered into and the calendar year subject to the claim, showing an increase in payroll since entering the abatement agreement, if the person is applying for the refund based on an increase in payroll; and

(vii) include any other information requested by the comptroller to support the refund request.

(B) If a comptroller employee has requested in writing additional information, the person requesting the refund must submit the requested materials:

(i) within 30 calendar days after the request is issued by fax, if the application was filed on or before April 30 of the year following the tax year; or

(ii) within 10 calendar days after the request is issued by fax, if the application was filed on or after May 1 of the year following the tax year.

(C) If additional information is not submitted as required by subparagraph (B) of this paragraph, the refund may be denied in full due to missing information.

(D) A refund payable under this subsection does not earn interest.

(E) A person applying for a refund must certify to the comptroller that the person is in compliance with each term of the tax abatement agreement entered into with the municipality or county.

(F) A complete application for refund must be filed before August 1 of the year following the ad valorem tax year for which the applicant has paid ad valorem taxes described by the Tax Code, 111.301(a).

(G) If the total amount of eligible refunds claimed by all persons is less than $10 million, the amount of a tax refund is equal to the ad valorem taxes paid to a school district by the person for the applicable tax year on the property that the person would not have been required to pay if the school district had entered into a tax abatement agreement covering the property that included the same terms, including terms governing the portion of the property that is to be exempt from taxation under the agreement, as the applicable municipal or county tax abatement agreement.

(H) If the total amount of eligible refunds claimed by all persons is greater than $10 million, the comptroller shall proportionally reduce the amount of each refund of persons whose claims are determined to be eligible as necessary to reduce the total refund amount to the $10 million available based on the applicant's eligible refund as a percentage of all eligible refunds. The amount by which a refund is reduced under this subsection may not be included in a claim for a refund in a subsequent year.

(I) The decision of the comptroller regarding a claim for refund becomes final 10 working days after the date the comptroller issues by fax notice of denial unless the claimant delivers a written request stating specific grounds for reconsideration of that comptroller decision, which request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. Management of the Property Tax Division will conduct a management review and fax a response to the taxpayer within 10 calendar days after the taxpayer's request for reconsideration was received by the comptroller. The decision of the Property Tax Division's management review becomes final 10 calendar days after the date the comptroller issues by fax notice of such review unless the claimant delivers a second written request for reconsideration to the manager of Property Tax Division stating grounds and providing documentation for a Comptroller of Public Accounts review within that time. A comptroller review will be conducted with the benefit of the Property Tax Division's recommendation and a response will be faxed within 20 calendar days after the request is filed. This process is not governed by the Administrative Procedure Act; it is provided solely to ensure an appropriate administrative review of a refund claimed under this section.

(J) Application for refund. An application for refund must be substantially in the form of an Application for Refund of State Taxes Paid by Person Owning Certain Abated Property (Form AP-186). The comptroller adopts this amended form by reference. Copies of the form are available for inspection at the office of the Texas Register or may be obtained from the Comptroller of Public Accounts, P.O. Box 13528, Austin, Texas 78711. Copies may also be requested by calling our toll-free number, 1-800-252-9121. In Austin, call (512) 365-9999. From a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD), call 1-800-248-4099, toll free. In Austin, the local TDD number is (512) 463-4621.

 Sec. 9.1051. Appraised Value Limitation and Tax Credit for Certain Qualified Property.

Definitions. The following phrases, words and terms, when used in this section, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

(1) Agreement--the written agreement between the governing body of a school district and the property owner to implement a limitation on the appraised value of qualified property, required by Tax Code, Sec. 313.027(d).

(2) Applicant--a person or an "affiliated group," as defined in Tax Code, Sec. 171.0001, who has applied for a limitation of appraised value on qualified property as provided by Tax Code, Chapter 313, and is subject to Tax Code, Chapter 171.

(3) Application--the Application for Appraised Value Limitation on Qualified Property, adopted by reference in Sec. 9.1052 of this title (relating to Forms).

(4) Application review period--the period of time during which the governing body of a school district is required to consider and approve or disapprove an Application for Appraised Value Limitation on Qualified Property. The application review period begins on the day an Application for Appraised Value Limitation on Qualified Property is filed with a school district and ends on the 120th day after the date on which the application if filed.

(5) Qualified property--property that meets the requirements of Tax Code, Sec. 313.021(2), and that is used either as an integral part, or as necessary auxiliary part, in manufacturing, research and development, a clean coal project, an advanced clean energy project, renewable energy electric generation, electric power generation using integrated gasification combined cycle technology, or nuclear electric power generation.

(6) Tax credit settle-up--the process by which tax credit amounts earn by a Chapter 313 recipient which are not paid during the value limitation period are paid following the expiration of the value limitation.

 Sec. 9.1052. Forms.

(a) The comptroller adopts by reference the following forms:

(1) Application for Appraised Value Limitation on Qualified Property (Form 50-296; and

(2) Application for Tax Credit on Qualified Property (form 50-300).

(b) Copies of the forms are available for inspection at the office of the Texas Register or may be obtained from the Comptroller of Public Accounts, P.O. Box 13528, Austin, Texas 78711-3528. The forms may be viewed or downloaded from the comptroller's web site, at http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/taxforms/02-forms.html. Copies may also be requested by calling our toll-free number, (800) 252-9121.

(c) In special circumstances, a school district may obtain prior approval in writing from the comptroller to use an application form that requires additional information, or sets out the required information in different language or sequence than that which this section requires.

 Sec. 9.1053. Requirements and Restrictions.

(a) Extension of the Application Review Period. If the governing body of a school district with which an owner has filed an application finds that the application review period is insufficient to permit adequate consideration of the application, before the end of the application review period the governing body may extend the application period for a specified time period.

(b) An extension of the application review period does not extend any time period established by this title.

(c) The school district shall immediately report each extension to the comptroller and each appraisal district that appraises property subject to the extension.

(d) All supplemental and amended information provided to the school district shall be in the same format, style, and presentation used in the application and attached documentation.

(e) In addition to meeting each eligibility and qualification requirement set out in this title and Tax Code, Chapter 313, the primary activity of an applicant's project must meet the eligibility criteria provided by Tax Code, Sec. 313(b)(1)-(7) and the applicant must use the property in connection with an eligible activity described by Tax Code, Sec. 313.024(b)(1)-(7).

 Sec. 9.1054. Application, Action on Application.

(a) Application Date. An Application may be filed at any time. An applicant who intends the qualifying time period to begin on January 1 of the year following the year the application is filed, however, must file the application and all required accompanying documentation before September 3 of the year preceding the year in which the applicant proposes the qualifying time period to begin.

(b) The comptroller is not required to consider applications that do not meet minimum requirements. Minimum requirements include:

(1) each question, schedule, and request for information concerning the following items is answered in detail and conforms to reasonable standards for application form and content set by the comptroller.

(A) dollar value of investments;

(B) proposed wages;

(C) employment;

(D) a property description;

(E) qualifying time period;

(F) notification of intent to request a waiver of minimum job requirements; and

(G) other items of relevant information as required by the comptroller.

(2) it is signed by the applicant or the applicant's authorized agent; and

(3) it is accompanied by the application fee adopted by the school district.

(c) Each document required by the application must be submitted during the required time frame.

(d) Immediately upon electing to consider the application the school district shall:

(1) forward to the comptroller the application, including the required schedules; the documentation that accompanied the application and proof of payment of the application fee; and

(2) forward to each appraisal district that appraises property subject to the application one copy of the application, schedules, and attached documentation.

(e) The applicant shall describe with specificity the qualified investment and qualified property that the applicant proposes to build or install, including sound, good faith estimates of the value of proposed investment. The information must be sufficient to show that the real and personal property identified in the application as qualified property meets the criteria established by Tax Code, Sec. 313.021(2) and that the minimum required qualified investment amount is made during the qualifying time period.

(f) If the application is filed before September 3 and is approved during that tax year, the qualifying time period begins January 1 of the following tax year. If the governing body extends the application review period, the qualifying time period specified in the application begins on January 1 of the first tax year following the approval of the application.

(g) Amended application--the governing body of a school district may at any time during the application review process permit an applicant to amend the application to provide changes in investment, wage, employment, a property description, or a qualifying time period to replace that submitted on the original application.

(h) If the school district's governing body permits an applicant to amend the application at any time after the 60th day of the application review period, the governing body shall, by official action, extend the application review period by a number of days equal to the difference between 60 and the number of days of the application review period that had passed when the application was received. For example, If the application was amended on the 85th day of the application review period, the governing body is required to extend the application review period for 25 additional days.

(i) The school district shall immediately send each amended application and each item of attached documentation to the comptroller. As soon as practicable after receiving an amended application, the school district shall send the amended application and attached documentation to each appraisal district that appraises property proposed to be subject to a limitation on appraised value.

(j) For purposes of the comptroller's recommendation only, an amended application is considered a new application and the 60-day time period within which the recommendation must be issued will be calculated in the manner provided by Sec. 9.1057(d) of this title (relating to Recommendation, Evaluation, and Reports by Comptroller).

(k) Supplementing the application--the governing body of a school district may permit an applicant to supplement the original application with certain information that was unavailable prior to the filing date and that will be used to verify that the property meets the requirements of Tax Code, Chapter 313. Changes in information concerning the proposed investment, property description, wages, employment, or a change in the qualifying time period may not be provided as supplemental information. Changes in the proposed investment, property description, wages, employment information, and the qualifying time period shall be submitted through an amended application. For example, an application may be supplemented to provide reinvestment zone descriptions, maps and reinvestment zone guidelines and criteria that were not available before the application was filed, while a change in the qualifying time period must be submitted on an amended application.

(l) The school district shall immediately forward to the comptroller and each appraisal district in which property that is subject to the limitation will be located all supplemental information that the district receives.

(m) An application that was filed before January 1, 2008, is not subject to subsection (h) of this section until July, 1, 2008. This subsection expires on July 2, 2008.

 Sec. 9.1055. Agreement to Limit Appraised Value.

(a) As soon as practicable after execution, the school district must submit to the comptroller and to all appraisal districts that appraise property described in the agreement a copy of the agreement between the school district and the property owner for the appraised value limitation required by Tax Code, Sec. 313.027 and all accompanying documents and exhibits.

(b) The agreement may include authorization for the company to replace property specified in the original agreement, provided that the company reports investment, value, and employment information related to replacement property added to the agreement to the school board, the comptroller, and to each appraisal district with the same format, style, and presentation used for the original application.

(c) The agreement shall contain the following:

(1) a requirement that the recipient meet minimum eligibility requirements throughout the value limitation and tax credit settle-up periods. Minimum eligibility requirements shall meet or exceed the Tax Code, Chapter 313 requirements for qualified investment and employment;

(2) The Texas Taxpayer Identification Number assigned by the comptroller to the company entering into the agreement or the Texas Taxpayer Identification Number of its reporting entity. The number included in the agreement shall match the number listed on the application; and

(3) a provision that states the amount of the limitation is based on the limitation amount for the category that applies to the school district on the effective date of the agreement, as set out by Tax Code, Sec. 313.022(b) or Sec. 313.052.

(d) By official action of the governing body of the school district, the agreement may be amended to include in the limitation of appraised value qualified property that was not specified in the original agreement, provided that the company reports to the school board, the comptroller, and to each appraisal district in the same format, style, and presentation as the original application, all relevant investment, value, and employment information that is related to the additional property. An agreement amended as permitted by this title shall:

(1) require that all property added by amendment be directly related to the economic activity proposed in the filed application;

(2) clearly distinguish the property, investment, and employment information added by amendment from the property, investment, and employment information in the original agreement; and

(3) define minimum eligibility requirements for the recipient of limited value.

(e) An agreement may not be amended to extend the value limitation time period.

 Sec. 9.1056. Tax Credit.

An applicant is entitled to a credit for part of the maintenance and operations property taxes that were paid to a school district for each tax year during the qualifying time period in an amount that is equal to the difference between the amount of maintenance and operations tax that was actually paid on the qualified property and the amount of maintenance and operations tax that would have been paid based on the appraised value limitation to which the school district agreed, provided that the applicant meets the requirements of Tax Code, Chapter 313, Subchapter D.

 Sec. 9.1057. Recommendation, Evaluation, and Reports by Comptroller.

(a) Recipients of property value limitations shall promptly submit to the comptroller information that is required to complete the comptroller's biennial report assessing the progress of each agreement. The comptroller will promulgate a form on which the required information shall be submitted.

(b) At any time during the application review period, the comptroller may request information from the school district or applicant that is reasonably necessary to complete the recommendation or economic impact evaluation. This information may include, but is not limited to, information from the school district that is related to the estimated effect of tax base changes on a district's state aid through the Foundation School Program and information related to local school facilities' needs. The school district or applicant shall provide the requested information to the comptroller within 10 working days of the date of the request. On request of the school district or the applicant, the comptroller may extend the deadline for providing additional information for a period of not more the 14 calendar days.

(c) For purposes of the recommendation required by Tax Code, Sec. 313.025(d), the 60-day period within which a recommendation must be submitted begins on the day the comptroller receives a substantially complete application and other documentation, forwarded pursuant to Sec. 9.1054 of this title (relating to Application, Action on Application).

(d) If one or more of the applications schedules or the qualifying time period is amended, the comptroller will consider the application as a new application only for purposes of issuing the recommendation required by Tax Code, Sec. 313.025(d). If the comptroller receives an application amended in this manner any time after the 60th day of the application review period, the time period for submitting the recommendation is extended by a number of days that equals the sum of the remaining days in the application review period plus the difference between 60 and the number of days of the application review period that had passed when the amended application was filed with the school district. The extended time period provided by this subsection shall match the number of days for which the application period was extended as required by Sec. 9.1054(h) of this title.

(e) As soon as practicable after receipt, the comptroller will review each forwarded application to determine if the application and accompanying documentation is complete. If the review determines that an application is not substantially complete or is missing documentation that is material to the comptroller's recommendation or economic evaluation, the comptroller will promptly notify the school district.

(f) Supplemental application information, amended application information, and additional information requested by the comptroller shall be promptly forwarded to the comptroller. Additional information concerning investment, property value, property description, employment, and the qualifying time period that is not provided to the comptroller in a timely manner may not be included in the comptroller's recommendation, economic impact evaluation, or report. Supplemental information shall be in the same format, style, and presentation as the application.

(g) An amended application and all attached documentation shall immediately be forwarded to the comptroller in the manner specified in Sec. 9.1055(d) of this title (relating to Agreement to Limit Appraised Value).

(h) The comptroller may not consider an application more than one year after the application's filing date unless the comptroller agrees to do so in writing.

 Sec. 9.1058. Miscellaneous Provisions.

(a) A recipient of limited value under Tax Code, Chapter 313 shall notify immediately the comptroller, school district, and appraisal district in writing of any change in address or other contact information for the owner of the property subject to the limitation agreement for the purposes of Tax Code, Sec. 313.032. An assignee's or its reporting entity's Texas Taxpayer Identification Number shall be included in the notification.

(b) Property list by chief appraiser. Before October 1 of each year, the chief appraiser shall compile and send to the comptroller a list of properties that are subject to a limitation on appraised value under Tax Code, Chapter 313. The comptroller may promulgate a form to facilitate the annual collection of this information from appraisal districts. The market value of each property on the list shall include separately listed taxable real and personal property owned by a person at one site. The list shall include, at a minimum, the appraisal district name, the name of any other appraisal district that appraises the property, the appraisal district number that the comptroller has assigned, the name of each school district that taxes the property, each school district number that the education agency has assigned, each account number that the appraisal district has assigned, each taxpayer name, the market value of the taxable value of the taxable real and personal property that the taxpayer owns at that site, any value exempted due to pollution control or other exemption, the taxable value of the taxable real and personal property that the taxpayer owns at that site, the tax year to which the listed information pertains, and the name and telephone number of a person at the appraisal district who is responsible for the information that is contained in the list.

(c) Changes in property values, population data, or strategic investment area designations that occur after an agreement is executed do not affect the job requirements or value limitation in the agreement.

(d) For purpose of Tax Code, Sec. 313.021(2)(A) and Sec. 313.025(a), a person who owns an interest in the land, including a leasehold that is at least coextensive with the agreement, is an owner.

(e) The comptroller may promulgate guidelines for the administration of Tax Code, Chapter 313.

 Sec. 9.109. Procedure for Protesting Preliminary Findings of Taxable Value.

(a) Definitions. The following words and terms, when used in this subchapter, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

(1) Agent - The individual that the petitioner is required to designate in the petition to perform the following activities on behalf of the petitioner:

(A) receive and act on all notices, orders, decisions, exceptions, replies to exceptions, and any other communications regarding the petitioner's protest;

(B) resolve any matter raised in petitioner's petition;

(C) argue and present evidence timely submitted with the petition at petitioner's protest hearing, unless agent designates in writing another individual to argue and present timely submitted evidence; and

(D) any other action required of petitioner.

(2) Appraisal district measures - The comptroller's measures of the degree of uniformity and median level of appraisal of an appraisal district made under the Tax Code, 5.10.

(3) Decision.

(A) Proposed decision - An official finding made by the hearing examiner concerning a protest of preliminary findings of taxable value, subject to filing of exceptions by any party.

(B) Final decision - An official finding made by the hearing examiner and signed by the Deputy Comptroller if a written exception is filed by the petitioner. A proposed decision may also become final without the Deputy Comptroller's signature, if no exceptions to that proposed decision are timely filed.

(4) District - A school district. District does not include an appraisal district.

(5) Person - Any individual, partnership, corporation, association, governmental subdivision, or public or private organization.

(6) Petition - The document and supporting evidence filed by petitioner indicating disagreement with the comptroller's preliminary findings or appraisal district measures.

(7) Petitioner - A school superintendent, chief appraiser or eligible property owner who submits a petition seeking redetermination of the comptroller's preliminary findings or appraisal district measures.

(8) Preliminary findings - The comptroller's findings of district property value delivered to a district and certified to the commissioner of education under the Government Code, 403.302(f) or (g).

(9) Protest - A disagreement by a district, property owner, or appraisal district with the comptroller's preliminary findings or appraisal district measures initiated by timely filing the petition required by subsection (f) of this section.

(10) Ratio study - A study designed to evaluate appraisal performance through a comparison of appraised values made for tax purposes with independent estimates of market value based either on sales prices or independent appraisals.

(b) Intent and scope of protest rule. The protest rule is intended to provide a petitioner with a clear process for resolving a disagreement with the Comptroller of Public Account's preliminary findings of property value certified to the commissioner of education pursuant to the Government Code, 403.302(f) or (g), and the measures of degree of uniformity and the median level of appraisal made pursuant to the Tax Code, 5.10. This rule governs all aspects of a preliminary findings or appraisal district measures protest.

(c) Construction of protest rule. Rules concerning protests of the preliminary findings of property value certified to the commissioner of education pursuant to the Government Code, 403.302(f) or (g) and the measures of degree of uniformity and the median level of appraisals made pursuant to the Tax Code, 5.10, will be reasonably construed in the rule's total context and in a manner providing a fair decision for every protest. Unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, in this rule, the term "petitioner" includes petitioner's agent.

(d) General provisions.

(1) All petitions and other documents related to a protest of the comptroller's preliminary findings or appraisal district measures shall be filed with the Comptroller of Public Accounts of the State of Texas, Property Tax Division manager. No document or petition is filed until actually received. However, any petition including supporting evidence is timely filed if it is sent to the Property Tax Division manager by:

(A) first-class United States mail in a properly addressed and stamped envelope or wrapper, and the envelope or wrapper exhibits a legible postmark affixed by the United States Postal Service showing that the petition including supporting evidence was mailed on or before the last day for filing; or

(B) an express mail corporation in a properly addressed envelope or wrapper, and the envelope or wrapper exhibits a legible date showing that the petition including supporting evidence was delivered to the express mail corporation for delivery on or before the last day for filing; or

(C) fax received on or before the last day for filing if the petition including supporting evidence, is under ten pages in content, the original is mailed within three days of the fax and all procedures for submitting a protest have been followed.

(2) An extension of time shall be requested in writing five days in advance of the original deadline for which the extension is requested. No more than one extension during an appeals period may be granted for each petitioner. An extension may not extend the deadline for more than ten days. An extension shall be granted only by the hearing examiner for good cause shown, and if the reason for the extension is not the petitioner's neglect, indifference, or lack of diligence. Good cause does not include a claim that the time periods established in this rule are too short to meet the deadline. If requested in writing by the petitioner and for good cause shown, the hearing examiner may waive the requirement that the request for the extension be made five days in advance of the deadline.

(3) In computing a period of time, the period begins on the day after the act or event in question and ends on the last day of the time period. If the last day of the time period is a Saturday, Sunday, or state or federal legal holiday, the period of time runs until the end of the first day which is neither a Saturday, Sunday, or state or federal legal holiday.

(4) The protest hearing will be conducted by a hearing examiner.

(5) Before a scheduled protest hearing the comptroller or a petitioner may request a preliminary conference to clarify the issues or resolve the protest. If the request is accepted, the conference shall be scheduled during business hours at the offices of the comptroller or at a time mutually agreeable to the comptroller and the petitioner. Admissions, proposals, or offers made in the compromise of disputed issues in a preliminary conference may not be admitted in a hearing. A hearing examiner may not attend a preliminary conference.

(6) An error in the comptroller's preliminary findings caused by an error in a district's annual report of property value or by a change in a district's certified tax roll may be corrected by timely filing a petition and otherwise complying with the requirements of this section.

(7) A district shall send notice of its protest to each appraisal district that appraises property for the district. An appraisal district shall send notice of its protest to each district that participates in the appraisal district. The district's or appraisal district's petition shall contain a certification that a copy of its petition was delivered as required by this subsection.

(8) A property owner may contact the Property Tax Division manager for information concerning the districts or appraisal districts that have filed a petition as required by this section. A district or appraisal district may contact the Property Tax Division manager for information concerning property owners that have filed a petition as required by this section.

(9) During the conduct of a protest hearing, a petitioner or a comptroller employee may present evidence not submitted prior to the deadline for filing the protest petition if the evidence is requested and obtained by a comptroller employee pursuant to subsection (i)(5) of this section, after the deadline to file a petition has passed and before the date set for the petitioner's protest hearing.

(10) A comptroller employee may present evidence, gathered during the conduct of the property value study or during the comptroller's review of the petitioner's protest, during a hearing on the petitioner's protest.

(11) At any time before the date final changes in the preliminary findings are certified to the commissioner of education, the comptroller may certify to the commissioner of education amended preliminary findings. If the comptroller certifies amended preliminary findings that are adverse to the district, the appraisal district's, property owner's, and district's time to protest begins to run on the date the amended preliminary findings are certified. An amended preliminary finding is made when the comptroller's finding of property value for a district is delivered to a district and certified to the commissioner of education between the date preliminary findings for the district are originally certified and final certification of changes in preliminary findings.

(12) A petition shall show the petitioner's name and address, designate the petitioner's agent, and list for each category of property the grounds for objection to the preliminary findings for that category. The grounds for objection shall list by category specific changes that the petitioner alleges would improve the accuracy of the taxable value finding or appraisal district measures, and shall provide the reason that each change will make the findings more accurate. A petition that does not clearly specify by category of property the specific changes that petitioner alleges would improve the accuracy of the taxable finding or appraisal district measures does not adequately specify the grounds for objection as required by Government Code, 403.303(a). The petition shall include the following information:

(A) all documentary evidence, placed in order by category, necessary to support the factual and legal contentions made in the petition; and

(B) the value petitioner claims is correct.

(13) A petition must be signed by:

(A) the superintendent of the district if it is a petition filed by a school district; or

(B) the property owner or the property owner's agent if it is a petition filed by a property owner; or

(C) the chief appraiser of the appraisal district, if it is a petition filed by an appraisal district.

(14) The petition must contain a statement by the person signing the petition that, to the best of the person's knowledge, the evidence contained in the petition is true and correct.

(15) In a protest of the comptroller's preliminary findings, the comptroller has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the comptroller used appraisal, statistical compilation, and analysis techniques, generally accepted as an appropriate method for the conduct of a ratio study by organizations setting recognized standards for the conduct of a ratio study, to reach a correct value for a district included in the property value study.

(16) The comptroller may, on the comptroller's own motion, grant an extension of time for the limited purpose of correcting technical errors or omissions in a timely filed protest petition. Petitioner's failure to submit grounds for objection or all documentary evidence necessary to support the factual and legal contentions made in the petition is not a technical error or omission.

(e) Who may protest.

(1) A district may protest the preliminary findings of its taxable value.

(2) A district may protest the preliminary findings of taxable value of an audit within the district.

(3) An owner of property included in a sample used by the comptroller to determine the taxable value of a category of property in a district may protest the comptroller's preliminary findings of value if the total ad valorem tax liability on the owner's properties included in the category sample for the district is $100,000 or more.

(4) An appraisal district may protest the comptroller's measures, made under the Tax Code, 5.10, of the level and uniformity of property appraisals within the district.

(5) A protest filed by a property owner or an appraisal district will not be considered for any purposes to be a protest filed by a district.

(f) Filing of a protest. A petition for a protest of the preliminary findings of taxable value or measures of degree of uniformity or median level of appraisal must be filed within 40 days after the date the comptroller certifies preliminary findings of district taxable value to the commissioner of education. A petition for a protest of the preliminary findings of taxable value of an audit must be filed within 40 days of the date the district received the preliminary findings of taxable value. Except as provided by subsection (d)(10) or (i)(5) of this section, no additional evidence may be submitted after the deadline for filing the petition.

(g) Scheduling a protest hearing. The comptroller shall deliver notice of the date, time, and place fixed for a hearing to each petitioner. The notice must be delivered not later than ten days before the date of the hearing.

(h) Hearing examiner's powers.

(1) The hearing examiner shall conduct a protest hearing in a manner insuring fairness, the reliability of evidence, and the timely completion of the hearing. The hearing examiner shall have the authority necessary to receive and consider all evidence, propose decisions, consider exceptions and replies to exceptions, and amend a proposed decision. The hearing examiner's authority includes, but is not limited to, the following:

(A) establish the comptroller's jurisdiction concerning the protest, including whether a timely protest has been filed or whether an extension of time should be granted;

(B) set hearing dates;

(C) rule on motions and the admissibility of evidence;

(D) designate parties and establish the order of presentation of evidence;

(E) consolidate related protests;

(F) conduct a single hearing that provides for:

(i) participation by the affected district(s), appraisal district, and any property owner that has filed a valid and timely petition, if the hearing concerns preliminary findings of taxable value or the degree of uniformity and median level of appraisal; or

(ii) participation by the affected district(s) and the commissioner of education, if the hearing concerns the preliminary findings of an audit of a district's taxable property value;

(G) conduct hearings in an orderly manner;

(H) provide for hearings by written submission;

(I) administer oaths to all persons presenting testimony;

(J) examine witnesses and comment on the evidence;

(K) insure that evidence, argument, and testimony are introduced and presented expeditiously;

(L) refuse to hear arguments that are repetitious, not confined to matters raised in the petition, not related to the evidence or that constitute mere personal criticism;

(M) accept and note any petitioner's waiver of any right granted by this rule;

(N) limit each hearing to one hour for presentation of evidence and argument or extend the one-hour time limit in the interest of a full and fair hearing; and

(O) exercise any other powers necessary or convenient to carry out the hearing examiner's responsibilities and to insure timely certification of changes in preliminary findings to the commissioner of education.

(2) The hearing examiner may take official notice of any matter that trial judges may judicially notice and of facts within the hearing examiner's personal knowledge or specialized experience. Petitioners in a protest in which official notice is taken shall have an opportunity to contest the matter.

(3) The hearing examiner may entertain motions for dismissal at any time for any of the following reasons:

(A) failure to prosecute;

(B) unnecessary duplication of proceedings or res judicata;

(C) withdrawal of protest;

(D) moot questions or obsolete petition;

(E) failure to certify that notice of protest was filed as required by subsection (d)(1) of this section or failure to actually file notice as required by subsection (d)(1) of this section; or

(F) the result of an appraisal district protest is adverse to a district.

(4) The hearing examiner may grant a request to postpone a protest hearing if good cause is shown and doing so would not prevent timely certification of changes in the preliminary findings to the commissioner of education. A request to postpone must be in writing, show good cause for the postponement, and be delivered five days before the date the protest hearing is scheduled to begin. Good cause does not include a claim that the time periods established in this rule are too short to meet the deadline. If requested in writing by the petitioner and for good cause shown, the hearing examiner may waive the requirement that the request for postponement be made five days in advance of the deadline.

(5) The hearing examiner shall determine the admissibility of the evidence. Any party may object to the admission of evidence and the objection will be ruled on and noted on the record. The hearing examiner may exclude irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious evidence. The hearing examiner may receive any part of the evidence in writing.

(6) The hearing examiner in a protest may not communicate outside a protest hearing, directly or indirectly, with any agency, person, petitioner or petitioner's agent regarding any issue of fact or law relating to the protest unless all petitioners in the protest have notice and opportunity to participate, except that the hearing examiner may communicate ex parte with comptroller employees to use the comptroller's special skills to evaluate the evidence if the employee will not participate in the protest hearing, has not been involved in preparing for the hearing, and has not been involved in conducting the particular property value study under protest.

(i) Conduct of hearing.

(1) The hearing examiner shall convene a hearing for a protest.

(2) All protests heard by the hearing examiner shall be recorded on audio tape. A petitioner will be provided a copy of the recording after a written request and payment of a cost-based fee. A petitioner may at any time make arrangements for and bear the cost of having a hearing recorded and transcribed by a court reporter, provided the comptroller's staff timely receives a copy of the transcript.

(3) All proceedings are open to the public and are held in Austin, unless the hearing examiner designates another place for the hearing. The hearing examiner may close a hearing, on the hearing examiner's own motion or on the motion of any party, if confidential information may be disclosed during the hearing.

(4) A petitioner may designate in writing one or more individuals to present argument and evidence timely submitted with the petition.

(5) If a comptroller employee has requested in writing information, materials, sales, or documentary evidence of any type from the appraisal district, property owner, or district and any of these materials are not provided to the comptroller's employee within ten working days of the request, the materials that were not provided shall be inadmissible during the conduct of a protest hearing for a petitioner who failed to provide the materials. The comptroller may require that information requests be supplemented.

(6) Each petitioner may present argument on any matter raised by the petition. Each petitioner may offer oral argument at the hearing. Argument shall be confined to the evidence and to arguments of other parties. Admissions, proposals, or offers made in the compromise of disputed issues in a preliminary conference may not be admitted in a hearing.

(7) No more than one representative for each petitioner or aligned group of petitioners shall be heard in the protest hearing on any petition except on leave of the hearing examiner. An agent may designate, and the hearing examiner may approve, a reasonable number of individuals to present argument and timely submitted evidence. Nothing in this subsection limits the presentation of evidence through witness testimony.

(8) The hearing examiner shall establish the order of proceeding, and is responsible for closing the record.

(j) Proposed decision.

(1) The hearing examiner, hearing examiner's designee, or a comptroller employee who has read the record shall prepare a proposed decision, which shall include a statement of the reasons for the proposed decision.

(2) The hearing examiner shall serve the proposed decision on the petitioner by facsimile machine, if available, electronic mail, or by using an overnight mail delivery service.

(k) Exceptions to proposed decision.

(1) Unless the petitioner has waived the right of review of the proposed decision, any party adversely affected by the proposal may, within ten days after the date the proposed decision is sent by facsimile machine, electronic mail, or delivered to an overnight delivery service, file exceptions by delivering the original documents to the hearing examiner. Replies to exceptions shall be filed in the same manner within 20 days after the proposal for decision is sent by facsimile machine, electronic mail, or delivered to an overnight delivery service. Copies of all exceptions and replies shall be served promptly on the examiner and on all other parties in the protest with certification of service furnished to the hearing examiner. Failure to provide copies to all other parties in the protest and to the hearing examiner with certification of service is grounds for withholding consideration of the written exceptions.

(2) After consideration of the exceptions and replies, the hearing examiner may issue an amended decision without again serving the decision on the petitioner.

(l) Final decision.

(1) A proposed decision is final ten days after it is delivered to the parties to the protest, unless exceptions to the proposed decision are filed, in which case the decision becomes final, in either its original or amended form, on the date signed by the Deputy Comptroller.

(2) A final decision ordering changes to preliminary findings made as a result of a school district's protest will change the preliminary findings for the appraisal district in which the school district is located.

(3) A final decision ordering changes to preliminary findings made as a result of an appraisal district's protest will change the preliminary findings for the school districts participating in the appraisal district.

(4) A final decision ordering changes to preliminary values made as a result of a property owner's or district's protest will change the measures for an appraisal district.

(5) A final decision ordering changes to preliminary findings made as a result of a property owner's protest will change the preliminary findings for the school district where the property which is the subject of the protest is located. A property owner's preliminary value may be changed by a protest brought by a school district or appraisal district.

(6) A decision concerning a protest of preliminary findings of taxable value of an audit must be decided by written order within 120 days of the date the school district received the preliminary findings.

(7) The hearing examiner shall deliver written notice of the final decision to each protesting petitioner.

(m) Certification of changes to preliminary findings. Unless the comptroller determines that circumstances require otherwise, the comptroller shall certify to the commissioner of education all changes to the preliminary findings on or before July 1 of the year following the year of the study.

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