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Tax Law Click here for the full text of this decision The City of Houston and Harris County properly appealed the tax master’s finding, and the referring court erred in rendering judgment without holding a de novo hearing. Such a failure is presumed harmful. FACTS:The Alief Independent School District brought suit against Bernard Johnson Young Inc. for unpaid property tax. A tax master recommended a take-nothing judgment against the school district. Within 10 days of the recommendation, on Aug. 30, 2001, the city of Houston and Harris County filed a notice of appeal with the referring district court, and the notice was forwarded to the school district and Young. The school district also filed a notice of appeal, and then filed a motion to compel discovery against Young. Houston and Harris County did not attend the hearing on that discovery matter, which was on March 6, 2002. However, at that hearing, the school district and Young proposed an agreed judgment, and the trial court signed it. The trial court ordered that Houston and Harris County take nothing, as they had failed to appeal the tax master’s recommendation. The governmental entities file a restricted appeal with Houston’s 14th Court of Appeal, as allowed by T.R.App.P. 30. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. Tax Code � 33.74(g) provides that the referring court “shall hold a hearing on all appeals not later than the 45th day after the date on which the initial appeal was filed with the referring court.” Because any party may appeal, the trial court failed to hold a hearing on all appeals, namely the one filed first by Houston and Harris County. The language of �33.74(g) indicates that when a notice of appeal is properly filed, the requirement that the referring court hold a de novo hearing is mandatory. Here, the city of Houston and Harris County properly appealed the tax master’s finding, and the referring court erred in rendering judgment without holding a de novo hearing. Such a failure is presumed harmful. OPINION:Yates, J.; Yates, Hudson and Frost, JJ.

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