Texas law requires a number of public notices to inform taxpayers about local property taxes. The first notice is the Notice of Appraised Value. 1 It is an individual notice sent by the chief appraiser to a property owner for property on which the appraised value increased from the previous year. 2 It informs the property owner of proposed property values and other necessary information. It may also include an estimate of the current year taxes based on the current year's proposed taxable value and the previous year's tax rate though this is no longer required on notices in large counties and will no longer be required on notices in smaller counties in 2022. 3
The Tax Code requires some taxing units to publish their calculated no-new-revenue and voter-approval tax rates or to mail them to each property owner. 4 School districts and water districts are not subject to the notice requirements in the Tax Code, but are subject to notice requirements specified in other statutes.
The Comptroller's office provides the following information as technical assistance and not legal advice. Taxing units should consult legal counsel for interpretations of law regarding tax rate preparation and adoption.
Notice of Tax Rate
Tax Code Section 26.04(e) requires local government taxing units to publish a Notice of Tax Rate and sets out the requirements for the format and content of the notice. 5 This notice provides information about two tax rates used in adopting the current year’s tax rate. The notice will include:
Form 50-212, Notice of Tax Rate is not required to be published in a newspaper. 13
Website: The notice must be posted on the city or county website, as applicable. The taxing unit shall post the notice prominently on the homepage of the taxing unit's website. 14
Notice of Public Hearing or Meeting
Local government taxing units must provide notice of a public hearing using language specified in the Property Tax Code, if that taxing unit proposes a tax rate that:
If a taxing unit proposes a tax rate that is less than or equal to the no-new-revenue tax rate and the voter-approval tax rate, the taxing unit must provide notice of a public meeting 18.
The Comptroller's office provides model forms that include the required statutory language.
The required notice may be published in a newspaper or by mailing it to each property owner in the city or county, as applicable. 19 If published, it must also be placed on the homepage of the taxing unit's website.
Newspaper: If the notice is published in a newspaper, it may not be in the part of the paper in which the legal notices and classified advertisements appear. 20 The notices must be at least a quarter-page in a standard-size or tabloid-size newspaper with a headline in 24-point type or larger. 21
Website: The notice must be posted on the city or county website, as applicable. The taxing unit shall post notice of the public hearing prominently on the homepage of the taxing unit's website continuously at least seven days before the public hearing on the proposed tax rate increase, and at least seven days immediately before the date of the vote proposing the increase in the tax rate. 22 It must remain on the taxing unit's website until the public hearing is concluded.
Television: If the taxing unit has free access to a television channel, the taxing unit shall request that the station carry a 60-second notice of the public hearing at least five times a day between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. for at least seven days immediately before the date of the vote proposing the increase in the tax rate. 23
Notice of Meeting to Vote on Tax Rate
If a vote is not taken at the public hearing or meeting, the governing body must announce the date, time and place of the meeting at which it will vote on the proposed tax rate. 24 If the governing body proposes to adopt a tax rate that does not exceed the lower of the no-new-revenue tax rate or the voter-approval tax rate, it must provide notice of the meeting to vote on the tax rate. This Notice of Meeting to Vote on Tax Rate must strictly follow the wording set out in the Tax Code. 25 The Comptroller's office provides Form 50-883 Proposed Rate Does Not Exceed No-New-Revenue or Voter-Approval Tax Rate which includes the statutory language. 26
The required notice may be published in a newspaper or by mailing it to each property owner in the city or county, as applicable. 27 If published, it must also be placed on the homepage of the taxing unit's website. 28
Newspaper: The Notice of Meeting to Vote on Tax Rate may not be smaller than one-quarter page of a standard-size or tabloid-size newspaper and the headline on the notice must be in 24-point or larger type. 29 It may not be published in the part of the newspaper in which legal notices and classified advertisements appear. 30
School districts are not required to publish the no-new-revenue tax rate and other schedules required by law for other types of taxing units. 31 School districts file one notice for budget and tax rate adoption. 32 Education Code Section 44.004(c) specifies the content requirements for this notice. 33 The Comptroller's office provides model Form 50-280 Notice of Public Meeting to Discuss Budget and Proposed Tax Rate which includes the statutory requirements.
A school district must publish its meeting notice to adopt the proposed budget and tax rates, together with a summary of the proposed budget, but there is no requirement to publish a summary of the proposed budget on a website. 34
Newspaper: The notice must be at least a quarter-page in a standard-size or tabloid-size newspaper. Its headline must appear in 18-point type or larger. 35
The school district may publish the notice in a daily, weekly or biweekly newspaper that is published in the school district. 36 If there is not a daily, weekly or biweekly newspaper in the school district, the school board president must provide for publication in at least one general circulation newspaper in the county in which the school district's central administrative office is located. 37
A legal newspaper must devote a certain percentage of its space to general interest items. It must have been regularly published for at least 12 months before the notice is placed and be entered as periodical postal matter in the county where it is published. 38
School District with July 1 Fiscal Year
A school district may begin its fiscal year July 1 rather than Sept. 1. 39 The chief appraiser prepares and certifies to the school assessor an estimate of the taxable value of property in that school district by April 30. 40 If a school district with a July 1 fiscal year does not receive the certified appraisal roll by June 7, the district uses the certified estimate in preparing its budget and tax rate hearing notice. 41 In this case, the school district with a July 1 fiscal year uses the notice required under Education Code Section 44.004(c).
While the school district with a July 1 fiscal year may prepare its notice using the certified estimate, the school district may not adopt a tax rate before the district receives the certified appraisal roll for the district. 42
After receiving a certified appraisal roll, the school district must publish a revised notice and hold another public meeting to adopt a tax rate that exceeds:
If a school district elects to adopt a tax rate before adopting a budget, it must publish notice and hold a meeting for the purpose of discussing the proposed tax rate. 44 Following adoption of the tax rate, the school district must publish notice and hold another public meeting before it may adopt a budget. 45 The school district should consult with legal counsel before using either of the model forms provided by the Comptroller's office:
A small taxing unit is a taxing unit that proposes a tax rate for the current year that is 50 cents or less per $100 of taxable value and would impose taxes of $500,000 or less from the current total value for the taxing unit. 46
A small taxing unit is exempt from the notice and publication requirements of Tax Code Section 26.04(e) that are applicable to larger taxing units. 47 Additionally, a taxpayer is barred from seeking an injunction to keep the taxing unit from collecting taxes until it has complied with the requirements applicable to the larger taxing units. 48
A small taxing unit may instead provide a simplified notice of its proposed tax rate that includes the information specified in Tax Code Section 26.052(e). 49 Alternatively, if a small taxing unit is a county or city, it may publish the proposed tax rate notice as provided in Tax Code Sections 26.06(b-1), (b-2), (b-3), (b-4-c) and 26.061(a). 50 The Comptroller's office provides Form 50-757 Small Taxing Unit Notice as a model for the simplified notice.
A small taxing unit that uses the simplified notice provisions may not adopt a tax rate that exceeds the proposed tax rate set out in its notice unless the taxing unit provides an additional public notice of the higher tax rate or complies with the required Tax Code provisions for adopting the higher tax rate. 51
A small taxing unit may provide public notice of the proposed tax rate in one of two ways:
The taxing unit must do either notice no later than seven days before the date on which it will adopt the proposed tax rate. 53
A small taxing unit must also provide public notice of its proposed tax rate by posting notice of the proposed tax rate prominently on the home page of the internet website of the taxing unit.
A small taxing unit that publicizes its tax rate in either of these methods is exempt from publishing two quarter-page ads when a taxing unit proposes a tax rate that exceeds the voter-approval rate or the no-new-revenue rate, whichever is lower, and from a taxpayer seeking an injunction to keep it from collecting taxes. 54
A local municipality with a population of less than 30,000 that do not meet the definition of a special taxing unit may instead provide a simplified notice of its proposed tax rate that includes the information specified in Tax Code Section 26.06 (b-1), (b-3) and Section 26.063. The Comptroller's office provides a model for the simplified notice.
While other taxing units are required to follow provisions of the Tax Code, water districts must follow notice and hearing provisions in the Water Code. 55 Water Code Section 49.236 requires a public hearing on a proposed tax rate and publishing of a special hearing notice. 56
The Notice of Public Hearing on Tax Rate is different than the notice published by other types of taxing units for public hearings. 57 Water Code Section 49.236 specifies the form and content for the hearing notice. 58 The notice must provide use language specified in Water Code Section 49.23601 for Low Tax Rate Districts, Water Code Section 49.23602 for Developed Districts and Water Code Section 49.23603 for Developing Districts. The Comptroller's office provides model Form 50-304 Water District Notice of Public Hearing on Tax Rate which includes the statutory requirements.
A water district's board of directors must publish the public hearing notice at least seven days before the hearing date or may mail it to each property owner at least 10 days before the hearing date. 59
Newspaper: The Notice of Public Hearing on Tax Rate must be published at least once in a newspaper having general circulation in the water district and be at least one-quarter page of a standard-size or tabloid-size newspaper with the headline in 18-point or larger type. 60