News Release from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 15, 2007
Contact: Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121

New Law Expedites Ad Valorem Tax Disputes in Local District Courts

Austin, TX -- Ad valorem tax disputes will be prioritized and given expedited status in local district courts of communities with populations of less than 175,000 persons, effective Sept. 1. More timely resolution of property tax disputes will provide appraisal districts and school districts with a clearer picture of their expected tax revenues.

Senate Bill 57 by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, and Rep. Veronica González, D-McAllen, which authorizes this change, was signed by Governor Rick Perry last week.

"Ad valorem tax disputes often take years to resolve and can result in costly delays of tax revenue receipts for small and rural counties that depend on this revenue to operate school districts and support their communities," Senator Zaffirini said. "This new law builds on my previous efforts to provide smaller communities and school districts with means to receive their tax revenue timely despite the occurrence of a dispute. I thank Rep. González for her hard work in passing this bill in the House and am delighted that Governor Perry signed it into law."

SB 57 is Senator Zaffirini's third effort to pass the bill suggested by Live Oak County Judge Jim Huff. Her SB 82 (2003) and SB 103 (2005) were passed by the Senate but died in the House of Representatives.

Currently property tax valuation disputes often take from two to three years to be resolved in the courts. Persons or entities who dispute a property tax valuation are required to pay only the amount of tax not in dispute. This adversely affects small and rural counties by causing costly delays in tax revenue receipts that may be crucial to operating a school district.

This new law will provide relief to small and rural counties by applying expedited status to tax disputes and ensuring small counties receive tax-related revenues without delays.

Live Oak County Judge Jim Huff and Gregory-Portland Independent School District (ISD) Superintendent Paul Clore testified in favor of SB 57 during its consideration in the Senate Jurisprudence Committee. The comptroller estimates that there are $39 billion worth of property valuations disputed statewide. Gregory-Portland ISD estimates an annual loss of $800,000 due to tax disputes and Three Rivers ISD estimates $350,000 to $400,000 of lost revenue.

The new law will increase county and ISD funding for education by reducing the turnaround time for appeals of property tax payments. San Patricio and Live Oak county ISDs anticipate that they could receive an estimated $1.2 million each year in property tax revenues if tax disputes are expedited.

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