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Title 1. Property Tax Code
Subtitle E. Collections and Delinquency

Chapter 33. Delinquency

Subchapter B. Seizure of Personal Property

Sec. 33.21. Property Subject to Seizure.
Sec. 33.22. Institution of Seizure.
Sec. 33.23. Tax Warrant.
Sec. 33.24. Bond for Payment of Taxes.
Sec. 33.25. Tax Sale: Notice; Method; Disposition of Proceeds.

[Sections 33.26 to 33.40 reserved for expansion]

Sec. 33.21. Property Subject to Seizure.

(a) A person's personal property is subject to seizure for the payment of a delinquent tax, penalty, and interest he owes a taxing unit on property.

(b) A person's personal property is subject to seizure for the payment of a tax imposed by a taxing unit on his property before the tax becomes delinquent if:

(1) the collector discovers that property on which the tax has been or will be imposed is about to be removed from the county; and

(2) the collector knows of no other personal property in the county from which the tax may be satisfied.

(c) Current wages in the possession of an employer are not subject to seizure.

(d) In this subchapter, "personal property" means:

(1) tangible personal property;

(2) cash on hand;

(3) notes or accounts receivable, including rents and royalties;

(4) demand or time deposits; and

(5) certificates of deposit.

Amended by 1983 Tex. Laws, p. 4828, ch. 851, Sec. 23; amended by 2001 Tex. Laws, p. 4824, ch. 1430, Sec. 17.

Cross References:

Personal property defined, see Sec. 1.04.
Restrictions on personal property tax lien, see Sec. 32.03.
Installment payment of delinquent taxes, see Sec. 33.02.

Sec. 33.22. Institution of Seizure.

(a) At any time after a tax becomes delinquent, a collector may apply for a tax warrant to any court in any county in which the person liable for the tax has personal property. If more than one collector participates in the seizure, all may make a joint application.

(b) A collector may apply at any time for a tax warrant authorizing seizure of property as provided by Subsection (b) of Section 33.21 of this code.

(c) The court shall issue the tax warrant if the applicant shows by affidavit that:

(1) the person whose property he intends to seize is delinquent in the payment of taxes, penalties, and interest in the amount stated in the application; or

(2) the applicant has reason to believe the property owner is about to remove from the county personal property on which a tax has been or will be imposed, the applicant knows of no other personal property the person owns in the county from which the tax may be satisfied, and taxes in a stated amount have been imposed on the property or taxes in an estimated amount will be imposed on the property.

Cross References:

Delinquency date, see Sec. 31.02.
Postponed delinquency date, see Sec. 31.04.
Tax records as evidence, see Sec. 33.47.

Note:

Tax Code Section 33.22(a) does not give a justice court any jurisdiction beyond that granted in the constitution and Government Code Section 27.031(a)(1). A justice court may grant a delinquent tax warrant only in those cases in which the amount of delinquent tax is $5,000 or less. Tex. Att'y Gen. LO-96-098 (1996).

Sec. 33.23. Tax Warrant.

(a) A tax warrant shall direct a peace officer in the county and the collector to seize as much of the person's personal property as may be reasonably necessary for the payment of all taxes, penalties, and interest included in the application and all costs of seizure and sale. The warrant shall direct the person whose property is seized to disclose to the officer executing the warrant the name and the address if known of any other person having an interest in the property.

(b) A bond may not be required of a taxing unit for issuance or delivery of a tax warrant, and a fee or court cost may not be charged for issuance or delivery of a warrant.

(c) After a tax warrant is issued, the collector or peace officer shall take possession of the property pending its sale. The person against whom a tax warrant is issued or another person having possession of property of the person against whom a tax warrant is issued shall surrender the property on demand. Pending the sale of the property, the collector or peace officer may secure the property at the location where it is seized or may move the property to another location.

(d) A person who possesses personal property owned by the person against whom a tax warrant is issued and who surrenders the property on demand is not liable to any person for the surrender. At the time of surrender, the collector shall provide the person surrendering the property a sworn receipt describing the property surrendered.

(e) Subsection (d) does not create an obligation on the part of a person who surrenders property owned by the person against whom a tax warrant is issued that exceeds or materially differs from that person's obligation to the person against whom the tax warrant is issued.

Amended by 1983 Tex. Laws, p. 4828, ch. 851, Sec. 24; amended by 2001 Tex. Laws, p. 4824, ch. 1430, Sec. 18.

Sec. 33.24. Bond for Payment of Taxes.

A person may prevent seizure of property or sale of property seized by delivering to the collector a cash or surety bond conditioned on payment of the tax before delinquency. The bond must be approved by the collector in an amount determined by him, but he may not require an amount greater than the amount of tax if imposed or the collector's reasonable estimate of the amount of tax if not yet imposed.

Sec. 33.25. Tax Sale: Notice; Method; Disposition of Proceeds.

(a) After a seizure of personal property, the collector shall make a reasonable inquiry to determine the identity and to ascertain the address of any person having an interest in the property other than the person against whom the tax warrant is issued. The collector shall provide in writing the name and address of each other person the collector identifies as having an interest in the property to the peace officer charged with executing the warrant. The peace officer shall deliver as soon as possible a written notice stating the time and place of the sale and briefly describing the property seized to the person against whom the warrant is issued and to any other person having an interest in the property whose name and address the collector provided to the peace officer. The posting of the notice and the sale of the property shall be conducted:

(1) in a county other than a county to which Subdivision (2) applies, by the peace officer in the manner required for the sale under execution of personal property; or

(2) in a county having a population of three million or more:

(A) by the peace officer or collector, as specified in the warrant, in the manner required for the sale under execution of personal property; or

(B) under an agreement authorized by Subsection (b).

(b) The commissioners court of a county having a population of three million or more by official action may authorize a peace officer or the collector for the county charged with selling property under this subchapter by public auction to enter into an agreement with a person who holds an auctioneer's license to advertise the auction sale of the property and to conduct the auction sale of the property. The agreement may provide for on-line bidding and sale.

(c) The commissioners court of a county that authorizes a peace officer or the collector for the county to enter into an agreement under Subsection (b) may by official action authorize the peace officer or collector to enter into an agreement with a service provider to advertise the auction and to conduct the auction sale of the property or to accept bids during the auction sale of the property under Subsection (b) using the Internet.

(d) The terms of an agreement entered into under Subsection (b) or (c) must be approved in writing by the collector for each taxing unit entitled to receive proceeds from the sale of the property. An agreement entered into under Subsection (b) or (c) is presumed to be commercially reasonable, and the presumption may not be rebutted by any person.

(e) Failure to send or receive a notice required by this section does not affect the validity of the sale or title to the seized property.

(f) The proceeds of a sale of property under this section shall be applied to:

(1) any compensation owed to or any expense advanced by the licensed auctioneer under an agreement entered into under Subsection (b) or a service provider under an agreement entered into under Subsection (c);

(2) all usual costs, expenses, and fees of the seizure and sale, payable to the peace officer conducting the sale;

(3) all additional expenses incurred in advertising the sale or in removing, storing, preserving, or safeguarding the seized property pending its sale;

(4) all usual court costs payable to the clerk of the court that issued the tax warrant; and

(5) taxes, penalties, and interest included in the application for warrant.

(g) The peace officer or licensed auctioneer conducting the sale shall pay all proceeds from the sale to the collector designated in the tax warrant for distribution as required by Subsection (f).

(h) After a seizure of personal property defined by Sections 33.21(d)(2)-(5), the collector shall apply the seized property toward the payment of the taxes, penalties, and interest included in the application for warrant and all costs of the seizure as required by Subsection (f).

Amended by 2001 Tex. Laws, p. 4824, ch. 1430, Sec. 19; amended by HB 3419, 78th Tex. Leg., 2003, effective June 18, 2003.

Cross References:

Delivery of notice, see Sec. 1.07.

Notes:

Tax liens take priority over claims of creditors, and failure to send notice of a tax sale to a junior lienholder does not affect the validity of the sale or title to seized property. Tax sales extinguish junior liens on personal property, as well as real property. Conseco Finance Servicing Corp. v. J & J Mobile Homes, Inc., 120 S.W.3d 878 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2003, pet. filed).

The taxing units failed to comply with the provisions of Sec. 33.25 by not making a "reasonable inquiry" as to the identity and address of any person having an interest in the seized personal property, other than the property owner. The court found that where the taxing units did not adequately follow up on the lienholder's name, as well as the correct serial number, the units did not comply with the statute. County of Burleson v. General Electric Capital Corp., 831 S.W.2d 54 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1992, writ denied).

[Sections 33.26 to 33.40 reserved for expansion]