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Texas Appraisal Districts Perform Poorly in Review

The ""Texas Taxpayers and Research Association"":http://www.ttara.org/ (TTARA) released a report analyzing the findings of performance audits in Texas' 253 central appraisal districts (CAD).


The report, titled ""Equal and Uniform…sort of"" compiles the results of reviews of local appraisal districts performed by the Property Tax Assistance Division (PTAD), housed at the State Comptroller's Office. The study was done under a requirement in House Bill 8, which was passed into law in 2009 by State Rep. John Otto and Sen. Tommy Williams.

The purpose of the evaluation was to see if appraisal districts in the state have the necessary tools to appraise property at its fair market value. In order to ""pass"" the assessment, districts must have up-to-date maps and written procedures for appraisals. They must also have property inspections that match appraisal district records and values that are reproducible using the same standards.

Initially, the review found that roughly one-third of all districts lacked up-to-date maps and documentable procedures. The Comptroller could not reproduce the values assigned to properties in over one-third of districts.

Though many districts corrected their mistakes in the time between the initial evaluation and the final review, some remained behind: Eight districts failed to get up to a passing standard before the PTAD made their final review and predicted that they also would not be able to address procedural concerns in the following year. These districts were reported to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation for further enforcement action.

After the final review, it was found that 9.5 percent of districts lacked current maps, 9.1 percent did not have written procedures, and 16.2 percent had appraisal values that could not be reproduced.

""The most troubling finding is that districts were found to be most lacking in appraisal standards and procedures â€" their core mission,"" said John Kennedy, TTARA's senior researcher.

Overall, the report stated that the results were ""not what was hoped for"" and that too many districts were ""lagging in the most important task"" of correctly appraising property. Kennedy said that these results could mean problems for taxpayers.

""The Texas Constitution guarantees that taxation will be equal and uniform,"" he said. ""That right is threatened if taxpayer property is not uniformly appraised at market value. It is little comfort to know that your house is fairly valued only to find out that your neighbor's is not. Your heftier tax bill subsidizes their benefit.""

The full report can be found ""online"":http://www.ttara.org/files/document/file-4faa877f51214.pdf.

About Author: Tory Barringer

Tory Barringer began his journalism career in early 2011, working as a writer for the University of Texas at Arlington's student newspaper before joining the DS News team in 2012. In addition to contributing to DSNews.com, he is also the online editor for DS News' sister publication, MReport, which focuses on mortgage banking news.

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