Face New Laws on Qualifications and Procedures
During its 1999 legislative session, the 76th Texas Legislature revised 1997 amendments for serving as appraisal review board (ARB) members and added some additional requirements to ARB duties. Most of the changes clarified new laws put in place in 1997.Qualifications
The Comptroller's Property Tax Division (PTD) will include these new laws in its ARB training seminars scheduled for March and April. See the related article on registering for the seminars. The Comptroller's Appraisal Review Board Manual will be updated to include these amendments.
The Legislature revised the 1997 amendments on who may serve as an ARB member. Effective June 19, 1999, House Bill (HB) 79 amended Property Tax Code Sections 6.41 and 6.412 that address appointing ARB members.Regulations
The amended law provides that, in all appraisal districts, a person is ineligible to serve on the ARB if the person is a county appraisal district (CAD) director, a CAD officer or employee, a Comptroller employee or a member of the governing body, office or employee of a taxing unit.
In counties having a population of more than 100,000, a person is ineligible to serve on the ARB if the person has served for all or part of three previous terms or is a former director, officer or employee of the CAD. A person also is ineligible to serve on the ARB in counties having a population of more than 100,000 until the fourth anniversary of the date the person ceased to serve as a member or officer of a taxing unit for which the appraisal district appraises property. In these 100,000 population counties, a person may not serve as an ARB member if the person has ever appeared before the ARB for compensation.
In counties having a population of 100,000 or less, a person is ineligible to be appointed to the ARB for a fourth term if the person has served for all or part of three consecutive terms. The person, however, may serve in some future year.
The Legislature also repealed some of 1997 changes dealing with property in more than one county appraisal district. HB 1037 addresses situations involving a property appraised by two or more appraisal districts.Protest procedures
The bill still requires that chief appraisers, to the extent practicable, coordinate appraisal activities to encourage and facilitate the appraisal of overlapping properties by each district at the same value. Effective Jan. 1, 2000, the bill repeals the requirement that chief appraisers average differing appraisals if they fail to agree on the same value by May 1 of the tax year.
The bill also eliminates the requirement that the property owner may protest to only one ARB about the property's appraisal, and that any ARB change affects the appraisal in the other district(s). Now, the property owner must protest to each ARB for the county in which the property is located if the owner disagrees with the property's appraisal or some other action of that appraisal district. This is a return to the pre-1997 amendments.
The Legislature also addressed areas dealing with taxpayer protests, including pooled mineral interests, property ownership by the state or a taxing unit, and property owners who can't attend their scheduled ARB hearing.
Effective Jan. 1, 2000, HB 1552 requires ARB hearings that involve pooled or unitized mineral interests to be held in the county in which the production site is located. If there are two or more production sites, then the ARB hearing is held in the county where at least two-thirds of the area of the mineral lease is located.
Senate Bill (SB) 1097 provides that the state or a taxing unit receives ARB notices and may appear at ARB hearings when the matters in dispute involve taxable leaseholds or other possessory interest in property owned by the state or taxing unit. The bill allows the state or taxing unit to offer evidence and argument at the ARB hearing.
Starting Jan. 1, 2000, SB 1359 establishes a standard form for property owner affidavits presented to the ARB for the purpose of offering evidence and argument without the owner personally appearing before the ARB. The new form -- prescribed by the Comptroller -- must include (1) the owner's name; (2) a property description; and (3) the owner's statement specifying the appraisal district or ARB determination for which the owner sought relief. Appraisal districts are required to have copies of the affidavit form available for property owners without charge. A property owner, however, is not required to use the Comptroller-prescribed form but may send a notarized letter with the three items above.
For more information about these new laws or the new affidavit form, e-mail questions to technical assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Appraisal Review Board Manual and the new form are available at the Local Property Taxes website at the Comptroller's Web page www.window.state.tx.us. Or, call the PTD's technical assistance hotline at 1-800-252-9121. In Austin, call (512) 305-9999.