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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The Dallas County Appraisal District appraised JPD Inc.’s property at $2.99 million for the 1999 tax year. JPD pursued its administrative remedies to protest the appraisal, then sought judicial review in October 2000. Just a week later, the City of Irving sued JPD for delinquent taxes. The Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District (CFBISD) intervened. JPD filed an answer, but then nothing happened in the suit again until Dec. 20, 2001. In the meantime, the city and the district were both pursuing JPD for its delinquent taxes. JPD made a few payments on its taxes and the penalties and interest to avoid the execution of tax warrants. By the time the two entities had collected more than $73,463 from JPD, the appraised value of JPD’s property was determined to be more than $2 million less that what it was appraised for. JPD and the appraisal district entered into an agreed judgment based on the new appraised value of $186,300. This judgment was never appealed. Once the appraised value of the property was reduced, CFBISD’s appraised value was reduced from $48,294 to $3,006. Though CFBISD refunded JPD the difference in the values, it did not refund the penalties and interest JPD on the $2.99 million appraised amount. JPD thus filed a counterclaim in the delinquency suit seeing a refund. The trial court granted judgment for JPD against both Irving and CFBISD and awarded JPD attorneys’ fees. HOLDING:Affirmed in part; reversed and rendered in part. The government entities say that the trial court erred in relying on Tax Code 42.43(a), which relates to refunds, saying the word “taxes” in that provision was ambiguous and resolving that ambiguity in favor of JPD to include penalties and refunds. The court finds that under Tax Code 42.41(a) and (b), once an appraisal has been changed and the tax rolls have been corrected, a taxing unit is entitled to penalties and interest only on the corrected amount. The only issue before the trial court was the proper amount of penalties and interest due based on the current and corrected tax roll as stipulated by the parties in the agreed judgment. “Once the appraised value is finally determined, the tax rolls are corrected and the current tax roll is used to calculate penalties and interest recoverable in a delinquency lawsuit under chapter 33. Thus, even assuming, without deciding, the trial court erred in its determination that ‘taxes’ is ambiguous as used in section 42.43(a), it does not mandate a different result because the trial court’s judgment is correct under another legal theory.” The court, however, rules that JPD was not entitled to attorneys’ fees because chapter 33 does not provide a mechanism for taxpayers to recover attorneys’ fees in a delinquency suit. OPINION:Wright, J.; Wright, Francis, and Lang-Miers DISSENT:Lang-Miers, J. “In affirming the trial court’s judgment ordering a partial refund of penalties and interest, the majority decides this appeal under the provisions of chapter 33 of the property tax code. I disagree that chapter 33 applies to this appeal because chapter 42 was the basis for JPD’s counterclaim, and section 42.43(a) specifically addresses what the legislature intended to happen in exactly this situation; chapter 33 does not. Because I would decide this appeal under chapter 42 of the code and reverse the trial court’s judgment, I respectfully dissent.”

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