School Districts May Request PTD to Audit Values
The Comptroller's Property Tax Division (PTD) receives requests for audits of school district taxable values. Such audit requests bring up questions from time to time about the PTD's procedures.Filing request
Comptroller Rule 9.5071 sets forth the PTD's procedures for requesting an audit of a school district's taxable value. Amended in 1991, subsection (c) of Rule 9.5071 states:
"An audit request may be submitted at any time after the [Comptroller] certifies final values to the commissioner of education, but must be filed before October 1 of the year following the year of the study . "
Subsection (f) provides that an audit request must be accompanied by an amended school district report and an affidavit from the chief appraiser.
When a timely written request is received, but the documents required by Subsection (f) are not provided simultaneously with the initial letter request, is the audit granted? The PTD grants the audit, but no changes are made until the documents are provided.Documents required
Prior to the 1991 amendment, the rule did not address information necessary to complete an audit. As a practical matter, however, a change in taxable value could not be made until the school district provided information necessary to determine if a change was required. PTD staff requested needed information, and audit changes were not made unless and until the necessary information was provided.
Staff practice did not change when Rule 9.5071 was amended in 1991 by the State Property Tax Board. (The Board was transferred to the Comptroller of Public Accounts on Sept. 1, 1991.) Comptroller staff continued to accept timely requests for audits, regardless whether the initial request letter was simultaneously accompanied by the required documents. The requested changes, however, are not made until information required by the rule is provided. Therefore, before changes are certified to the Commissioner of Education, all audit requests are "accompanied by" the required documentation.
Comptroller staff construes the rule to require Subsection (f) documents before the audit can be completed. Audit requests are routinely acknowledged based solely on the timely receipt of the audit's written request. Changes are not, however, made until the information required by the rule is provided.
School districts must request an audit in writing. A letter of request signed by the superintendent or designated agent of the school district meets the request requirement. In the case of an agent appointment, the request should include a letter appointing the agent and be signed by the school districts superintendent. Only one audit request for a school district will be accepted for a defined period.Deadline
All audit request letters should include documents required to conduct the audit. Documents include:
- amended report of property value,
- recaps reflecting the audit request date,
- certified affidavit from chief appraiser reflecting audit request date and
- any court documents, such as judgments and court orders.
School districts must request audits before Oct. 1 of the year following the year of the study. Audit requests must be postmarked no later than Sept. 30, according to Comptroller Rule Section 9.5071.
Districts may request audits after Oct. 1 for court litigation, if the final court judgment was issued after the deadline. Evidence is required about the date the judgment was issued.
For example, PTD receives an audit request for 1997 taxable values with a postmark in 1999. The deadline for audits of 1997 school taxable values is a postmark of Sept. 30, 1998. If a court judgment on a property value is finalized for tax year 1997 between Oct. 1, 1998 and Sept. 30, 1999, then the postmark for an audit request may be no later than Sept. 30, 1999. If, for a 1997 property value, the court judgment is finalized between Oct. 1, 1999 and Sept. 30, 2000, then the postmark for the audit request may not be later than Sept. 30, 2000.
Catherine Kilgore, Larrilyn Reissig