X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The Travis County Central Appraisal District sent notices of appraised property value to certain commercial property owners in May 2003 for the 2003 tax year. The notice advised the taxpayers of the appraised value and the tax due. The taxpayers did not protest the appraisal values, and the appraisal roll was certified July 24, 2003, by the appraisal review board. Tax collection began in November 2003 and taxes would ordinarily be due by Feb. 1, 2004. Meanwhile, the taxpayers took advantage of Tax Code 22.23(c), an amnesty provision under which, if taxpayers reported taxable property omitted from the appraisal rolls by Dec. 1, 2003, the property would be exempt from the additional tax it would have generate for the 2001 and 2002 tax years. Because the May 2003 appraisal notice did not include the value of the newly reported property, a supplemental appraisal was prepared and approved by the review board. New notices of appraisal reflecting the additional property reported through the amnesty provision went out Jan. 6, 2004, and were received on Jan. 14. The notice indicated that the taxpayers had 30 days to protest the amended appraisal under the administrative procedures provisions of the Tax Code. The taxpayers did not protest the amended appraisals. Instead, on Jan. 30, they asked a trial court for a temporary restraining order, a temporary injunction, a permanent injunction, and a declaration that their due process rights had been violated. They also asked for a declaration that the taxing authority acted without proper authority, and that the actions the authority took were null and void. The trial court granted a temporary restraining order enjoining further appraisals, assessments or collection efforts against the disputed property. On Feb. 4, the tax assessor/collector generated new tax bills making the taxes due Feb. 29. The trial court denied the motion for temporary injunction on Feb. 19 and, in response to the taxing authorities’ plea to the jurisdiction, the trial court dismissed the rest of the taxpayers’ claims on Feb. 27. In its findings of facts and conclusions of law, the trial court noted that the taxpayers had not exhausted their administrative remedies and so it lacked jurisdiction. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court addresses the taxpayers’ argument that all, some or one of the exceptions to the general requirement of exhaustion of administrative remedies applies to their case. One exception is for when an administrative agency purports to act outside its statutory powers. The taxpayers say the taxing authorities acted outside the scope of their authority be increasing the appraisal value of the taxpayers� property. Generally, appraisal rolls are not to be changed once they are certified, but the court finds that Tax Code 25.21 permits the chief appraiser to include omitted property � including that submitted under the amnesty provision � in the appraisal records at any time. The court also rejects the taxpayers’ suggestion that, even if the taxing authorities are allowed to add property to the roll, they are not allowed to increase the appraisal amount. Although the taxing authorities are not permitted under 25.25 to increase the value at which property had been appraised after the appraisal roll has been certified, the taxing authorities do have the authority to add omitted property, as discussed above, to the appraisal roll through a supplemental appraisal record even after the roll has been certified. The court acknowledges that the taxpayers may not have been given enough time within which to pay the amended appraisal amount � some code sections suggest that they may have had at least until Feb. 1, 2005. But the court points out that the taxpayers could have protested the accelerated due date, but they did not. They did not exhaust this administrative remedy before seeking judicial review. Two exceptions to the administrative-exhaustion requirement are when certain constitutional issues are involved or when the failure to provide the taxpayers notice of appraised property value deprives the taxing authorities of jurisdiction and voids the appraisal. The court finds that a defective appraisal notice is not a barrier to a taxing district’s jurisdiction. Any failure to provide notice of appraised value � such as giving notice of the amended appraised value before beginning collection � is not jurisdictional and does not render and appraisal void. Furthermore, even assuming that the taxing authorities’ notice was defective, the purpose of the administrative process is to provide a mechanism to protest such shortcomings. The taxpayers were given an opportunity to be heard but did not take it. Another exception to the exhaustion requirement is for when the administrative remedies are inadequate and the exhaustion of administrative remedies would cause irreparable remedies. The court rules that the code’s statutory scheme does not force the taxpayers to pay all of the taxes without question. Rather, they are required to pay that portion of the assessed taxes with which they have no disagreement. As the taxpayers did not disagree with the original assessments, they would not have been harmed by paying this tax by the rescheduled due date. A fourth exception to the exhaustion requirement is for when the issue presented is purely a question of law. The court rejects all three of the issues the taxpayers try to characterize as purely questions of law: 1. whether the taxing authorities violated statutory law by increasing the tax roll after it had been approved to take into account the 22.23(c) amnesty provision; 2. whether the taxing authorities gave the taxpayers proper notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard when they amended the appraisal roll as required by the constitution and the tax code; and 3. whether the due date on the taxpayers’ increased tax bill violates the tax code. Even if the issues are pure questions of law, the court adds that the legislature has given taxing authorities exclusive jurisdiction to interpret and act under 22.23(c), hearing and deciding disputes. OPINION:W. Kenneth Law, C.J.; Law, C.J., Smith and Pemberton, JJ.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.