Appellate Court CasesCourts Issue Six Property Tax Decisions Since January
Texas courts of appeals have issued six opinions since the beginning of the year—three dealing with interstate allocation of aircraft value and the remainder with delinquent tax collection issues.
The interstate allocation cases all dealt with motions to correct prior year appraisal rolls pursuant to Tax Code Section 25.25(c)(3). Section 25.25(c)(3) provides that a correction can be made in cases where property “does not exist in the form or at the location described in the appraisal roll.” In all three cases, the courts held that corrections could not be made because the aircrafts had been located within the boundaries of the appraisal district.
In Harris County Appraisal District v. Texas Eastern Transmission Corp. (No. 14-02-00445-CV, Tex.App.—Houston, 14th Dist., February 27, 2003), the taxpayer filed renditions and never protested the aircraft valuations. The court held that interstate allocation challenges could not be made as late corrections and had to be protested during the annual appeals period.
In A&I Air Service, Inc. v. Denton Central Appraisal District (No. 2-02-042-CV, Tex.App.—Fort Worth, February 13, 2003), the fact situation was similar to that in the Harris County case. The court went further in its analysis by stating that making such a prior year roll correction would require the court to “look behind the appraisal roll to determine how the value was determined,” a situation that was considered to be beyond the scope of Section 25.25. Further, the court held that the taxpayer had waived the right to interstate allocation by failing to protest before the appraisal review board.
The third case is Kellair Aviation Co. v. Travis Central Appraisal District (No. 03-02-00335-CV, Tex.App.—Austin, February 6, 2003). The taxpayer in this case had not filed annual renditions. The court concluded, as did the courts in the subsequently decided cases described above, that a correction could not be made because the aircraft had been located within the appraisal district boundaries, and the taxpayer had waived the allocation by failing to protest.
Of significance among the three delinquent tax cases is Spring Branch Independent School District v. Siebert (No. 01-00-00892-CV, Tex.App.—Houston, 1st Dist., February 6, 2003). In this case, the taxpayers re-platted their property, but the appraisal district did not change the appraisal records. Taxes became delinquent, and the taxing unit filed a lawsuit to collect based on appraisal district maps. The court held that the mistakes in the maps prevented the identification of the property with reasonable certainty to support a judgment. The case also included a claim for attorneys’ fees (the 15-percent penalty) for a subsequent tax year when the payment was made on June 30. The court ruled that the penalty could not be imposed before July 1 and that the payment was sufficient.