Property Tax Today

Quarterly Property Tax News

July 1, 2020

Property Tax Today

Quarterly Property Tax News

Volume 13 | July 2020

Property Tax Today features content regarding upcoming deadlines, action items and information releases.

Please let us know what you would like to see in future editions by sending property tax questions and/or suggested topics to ptad.communications@cpa.texas.gov. We will gladly address property tax matters under our authority.

Message from the Comptroller

photo of Comptroller Hegar
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller

As we enter summer, Texas and the nation continue to face an unprecedented challenge in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses have been forced to curtail or cease operations, leaving millions out of work and prompting a record increase in unemployment claims that is straining the safety net for workers. Nearly two million people in Texas filed for unemployment insurance benefits from March 14 through May 9, triple the number of claims filed in all of 2019.

It's far too early to say how long these conditions will last, as many economic measures are only beginning to reflect the crisis. Fortunately, our state's fiscal position is strong enough to support vital programs for the remainder of this year, and our state's "Rainy Day Fund" remains healthy. But the 87th Legislature that begins in January 2021 will face significant challenges.

I encourage everyone to spend some time reviewing the May issue of Fiscal Notes (PDF). This issue considers the history of previous recessions and their effect on tax revenues. While our current situation has unique elements, looking to the past provides important clues for our future. For questions about how our tax functions are continuing during the outbreak, visit our COVID-19 News page or our Virtual Field Office.

Summer in Texas signals the start of the property tax rate adoption process. This process is guided by a concept in the Texas Constitution known as truth-in-taxation (TNT). The 86th Legislature made sweeping changes to the tax rate adoption process. The Property Tax Assistance Division (PTAD) subject matter experts worked tirelessly with industry professionals, taking and reviewing feedback, to develop and publish comprehensive TNT information, and in June released new and revised webpages and forms.

PTAD is actively working on property value study (PVS) protests to develop the final 2019 values to be certified to the commissioner of education, appraising property for the 2020 PVS, reviewing appraisal districts for the 2020 Methods and Assistance Program (MAP) reviews and reviewing and approving educational course materials for property tax professionals, as well as preparing for the 2020 arbitration season and the 2021 legislative session. PTAD never slows down!

Electronic Appraisal Roll Submission (EARS)

In light of the ongoing pandemic, we are providing a two-week extension on the EARS deadline. Appraisal districts with fewer than 200,000 taxable parcels but more than 10,000 parcels must submit certified appraisal rolls by Aug. 15; the remainder are due by Sept. 15. PTAD's EARS Manual (PDF) offers additional information on this process.

EARS requires appraisal districts to provide appraisal roll information in a standard electronic format, accompanied by Form 50-792 (PDF), Electronic Appraisal Roll Submission Media Information Form (MIF) (PDF), and submitted through the secured EARS FTP site. Submission information and guidance is located in the EARS section of PTAD's PVS and Self Reports webpage and the EARS Manual (PDF).

Electronic Property Transaction Submission (EPTS)

We are also providing a two-week extension on EPTS files. All appraisal districts are required to submit EPTS files by Aug. 15.

Appraisal districts must submit all property transaction records in their possession, including the split school districts, using the record layout and date range specified in the EPTS Manual (PDF) along with a signed Electronic Property Transaction Submission Media Information and Certification Form (MICF) (PDF).

PTAD can receive EPTS files by email or via the secured EPTS FTP site. This FTP site requires a registered user and the software that supports SFTP protocol for file transfers. Submission information and guidance is located in the EPTS section of PTAD's PVS and Self Reports webpage and the EPTS Manual (PDF).

Appealing Appraisal Review Board (ARB) Determinations

A property owner dissatisfied with ARB findings has the right to appeal the ARB decision in one of three ways, depending on the facts and type of property.

A property owner may appeal through binding arbitration if the property is valued at $5 million or less, or if it is a residence homestead (regardless of value). For information regarding filing a request for binding arbitration with the appraisal district, check PTAD's Arbitration Information webpage.

A property owner may appeal ARB orders for real or personal properties with values of more than $1 million to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). More information regarding filing a SOAH appeal is located on SOAH's website. Alternatively, a property owner may appeal an ARB decision to the state district court in which the property is located.

Reappraisal Plans

Appraisal district boards of directors should develop and adopt reappraisal plans no later than Sept. 15. Copies of the approved plan must be distributed to the governing body of each taxing unit participating in the appraisal district and to the Comptroller's office within 60 days of the date of approval. You may email the Comptroller's copy to Charlotte Thomas in PTAD.

Farm and Ranch Survey

The Texas Farm and Ranch Survey for the 2020 PVS will be available online in September. PTAD also sends it by regular mail to agricultural appraisal advisory board members. The survey requests 2019 data.

PTAD calculates open-space land values annually for all counties. Input from chief appraisers, agricultural appraisal advisory board members, agricultural extension office personnel and other individuals involved in agriculture is important as we calculate typical farm and ranch income and expenses. Information provided increases the accuracy of the PVS, which results in more equitable state funding of school districts.

Truth-in-Taxation

PTAD's truth-in-taxation (TNT) website has been updated for 2020, providing forms and other comprehensive information for taxing units regarding their legal responsibilities to taxpayers and setting tax rates.

Local Government Relief

A city adjacent to a U.S. military installation, or a county in which a U.S. military installation is wholly or partly located, may be entitled to a disabled veteran assistance payment from the state under Local Government Code Section 140.011. The city or county must be a qualified local government for a fiscal year to receive a payment.

The Texas Legislature appropriated $20 million for the Comptroller's office to make payments to qualified cities and counties in fiscal 2020 and 2021 ($8.5 million in fiscal 2020 and $11.5 million in fiscal 2021). A breakdown of the amounts of reimbursement requested and the amounts paid to each entity can be found on PTAD's Local Government Relief webpage.

AG Opinions

The Office of the Attorney General (AG) issued the following opinions:

  • Opinion No. KP-0299 (PDF) (April 13, 2020)
    Tax Code Section 11.35 creates a temporary tax exemption for qualified property damaged by a disaster, as declared by the Governor. A court would likely conclude that the Legislature intended to limit the temporary tax exemption to apply to property physically harmed as a result of a declared disaster. Thus, purely economic, nonphysical damage to property caused by the COVID-19 disaster is not eligible for the temporary tax exemption provided by Tax Code Section 11.35.
  • Opinion No. KP-0300 (PDF) (April 22, 2020)
    Governmental bodies may comply with Government Code Section 551.007 by conducting one public comment session at the beginning of the meeting and may adopt reasonable rules to cap the total time given to each person who wishes to testify.
  • Opinion No. KP-0307 (PDF) (May 8, 2020)
    Tax Code Section 41.45(o) and 34 Texas Administrative Code Section 9.805(d) do not allow appraisal review boards to require protest hearings to be conducted by videoconference in lieu of in-person hearings when requested by a property owner.

Action Items

Below is a list of action items for the third quarter of 2020. You can find a full list of important property tax law deadlines for appraisal districts, taxing units and property owners on PTAD's website.

  • Aug. 1 – Oil and gas data submission due
  • Aug. 15 – EARS due for appraisal districts with between 10,000 and 200,000 parcels (excluding Category G)
  • Aug. 15 – EPTS due for all appraisal districts
  • Sept. 1 – Utility data report due
  • Sept. 15 – EARS due for appraisal districts with either less than 10,000 parcels or more than 200,000 parcels (excluding Category G)
  • Sept. 15 – Deadline to adopt reappraisal plan (copy must be sent to Comptroller's office within 60 days)

If the last day for any of the deadlines is on Saturday, Sunday or a legal or state holiday, the act is timely if performed on the next regular business day.

Prior Issues >>

Please be advised that the information in this newsletter is current as of the date of its publication and is provided solely as an informational resource. The information provided neither constitutes nor serves as a substitute for legal advice. Questions regarding the meaning or interpretation of any information included or referenced herein should be directed to legal counsel and not to the Comptroller's staff.