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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:After the Cameron County Appraisal District assessed ad valorem taxes under Tax Code �11.14(a) against several owners of travel trailers and park model recreation vehicles, the owners sought to file a class action suit against the district. Section 11.14(a) says that “a person is entitled to an exemption from taxation of all tangible personal property, other than manufactured homes, that the person owns and that is not held or used for production of income.” The owners claimed the district erred in characterizing the trailers as manufactured homes. The owners claimed the trailers are personal property, not subject to ad valorem taxes. They challenged the constitutionality of the assessment under Texas Constitution Art. VIII, �1(d)(2), which says the legislature may not exempt from ad valorem taxation “structures which are personal property and are used or occupied as residential dwellings.” The plaintiffs also challenged the authority of the appraisal district to value or assess the travel trailers. The trial court denied class certification and held that it did not have jurisdiction over some of the plaintiffs’ claims due to their failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The court also granted summary judgment to the appraisal district on the plaintiffs’ claims related to taxation of their “dwelling structures.” HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. The court first holds that the trial court erred in refusing to exercise jurisdiction over some of the plaintiffs for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The court points out that the exhaustion requirement does not apply to questions of pure law, such as constitutional challenges or challenges to government authority. Pointing to the plaintiffs’ petition, the appraisal district tries to argue that the plaintiffs seek an answer on a question of law � whether their travel trailers are permanent fixtures or not. The court holds that such a determination is not essential to the plaintiffs’ action. If the trailers are not manufactured homes, they are exempt under �11.14(a), regardless of whether they are permanently affixed or not. The court finds that federal regulations defining HUD-code manufactured homes or mobile homes excludes from the definition of “manufactured homes” any vehicle meeting the description of the plaintiffs’ vehicles, that is, vehicles designed primarily as temporary living quarters for recreational use, a question of law. The court reverses summary judgment on the issue of whether the travel trailers and park model recreational vehicles are personal property and exempt from taxation under Art. VIII, �1(d)(2) of the constitution. The appraisal district found the trailers were “dwellings,” and the constitution says residential dwellings are not exempt from assessment as personal property. However, the court says no summary judgment evidence was introduced to support that contention. Furthermore, “dwelling” is not defined by the court or the appraisal district, and the term does not necessarily mean the same thing as “residential dwelling,” as used in the constitution. Though the plaintiffs’ own description of their vehicles in their pleadings could be considered an admission that they are “dwellings,” there is not enough evidence to suggest that the description is a judicial admission that they are “residential dwellings.” Nevertheless, the court declines to hold �11.14(a) unconstitutional, based in part on the plaintiffs’ lack of authority to support its claim. The court rejects the appraisal district’s affirmative defense in its summary judgment motion that the plaintiffs’ vehicles are so affixed to the land, even land owned by another person, that they should be considered “improvements” and taxable as real estate. The court applies a three-part test to determine whether the vehicles are so affixed that their removal would material damage the real estate: 1. Has there been a real or constructive annexation of the property in question to the realty? 2. Was there a fitness or adaptation of the article to the uses or purposes of the realty with which it is connected? 3. Was it the intention of the party making the annexation that the chattel should become a permanent accession to the freehold? “Considering that: 1. appellants’ vehicles are of such nature they were not part and parcel of the land where they were parked, and could be removed without injury to the land where parked; 2. the parking spaces are prepared and intended for such vehicles to move in and move out from time to time; 3. appellants were using their vehicles in a normal and intended manner; and 4. appellants still own their vehicles, we conclude that there is a strong inference that appellants did not intend to permanently affix their vehicles to their rented spaces so they became fixtures and property of their landlords.” The court also finds the appraisal district erred in determining that the vehicles were manufactured homes. Just because the appraiser did not observe any trailer hitches on the vehicles did not mean that that the plaintiffs’ vehicles were not permanently towable by a light truck; the appraiser did not state how hard he looked for the hitch or whether he asked any knowledgeable person whether the hitches were permanently unhitched from the trailers or just stored out of sight temporarily. Furthermore, there was no proof that the vehicles are designed primarily for use as a permanent dwelling and not as temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, travel or seasonal use. The court then rules that the trial court erred in denying class certification. The trial court said the class was not clearly ascertainable. But the court says the class � defined by the plaintiffs as “All individuals located in Cameron County, Texas who own park model or travel trailers located on r.v. or travel trailer parks, who have been either previously taxed and/or whom the Cameron County Appraisal District has sought to appraise for the purpose of placing the park model or travel trailers on the tax rolls of various taxing entities within Cameron County, Texas and whose park models and/or travel trailers are not permanently affixed to realty not owned by them and the travel trailer or park model are not held or used for the production of income. The reference to whether the vehicles are permanently affixed is not an objective criteria, but that factor is irrelevant to the plaintiffs’ claim, as held above in the administrative remedies discussion. The court further finds issues of fact or law common to the class, similar defenses to the claims made by the appraisal district, and the named representative will adequately protect the interests of the class. OPINION:Amidei, J.; Valdez, C.J., Rodriguez and Amidei, JJ.

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