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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Several Dallas-area taxing authorities (including the school district, the community college district and both city and county entities) claimed Pete Dominguez Enterprises Inc. (PDE) owned property that a restaurant was on that was subject to taxation by all entities. The taxing authorities sued PDE for delinquent property taxes, attaching to the petition a tax statement under the name Pete Dominguez. The statement listed all of the taxes owed to each authority. The authorities also filed a certified copy of a document called a Delinquent Tax Statement, which contained the same information but with amounts owed updated to the time of trial. This statement also identified the property owner as Pete Dominguez. PDE objected to the exhibit, saying the suit was against Pete Dominguez Enterprises, Inc., yet the statement says “Pete Dominguez.” The trial court overruled PDE’s objection. PDE did not present any evidence in rebuttal, but only reasserted its belief that the delinquency referred to the wrong party. In response, the taxing authorities said they believed the proper party had been named in the suit and that the delinquent tax statements are frequently directed to the party responsible for paying taxes for an entity, even if it’s not the entity itself. “We believe that the Pete Dominguez listed on the tax statement is the same Pete Dominguez who’s the principal of Pete Dominguez Enterprises, Inc.,” the taxing authorities said. The trial court ruled for the taxing authorities; PDE appeals. HOLDING:Reversed and rendered. The court finds that when a taxing authority complies with Tax Code �33.47, the section dealing with the collection of delinquent taxes, a rebuttable presumption arises in the taxing authority’s favor that the defendant owned the property at issue on Jan. 1 of the relevant tax year. The court points out, however, that the only evidence the taxing authorities offered was certified copies of entries from their delinquent tax rolls showing the property and the amount owed. The court agrees with PDE that the only evidence thus offered is that Pete Dominguez owes the delinquent taxes. There is no evidence that Pete Dominguez and PDE are factually or legally equivalent. Though the taxing authorities offered “assurances” that they were one in the same, “assurances are not evidence.” Without this additional evidence, the taxing authorities cannot take advantage of the presumption of liability. OPINION:FitzGerald, J.; O’Neill, FitzGerald and Lang, JJ.

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