Vision for ARB practice

Every year millions of property owners have complaints about their property-tax appraisals. Texas ARBs were created to provide a fair, quick, efficient and user-friendly way to resolve those complaints.The system generally works very well. There are over 1,800 ARB members in counties across Texas. The great majority are conscientious, knowledgeable people who do their best to enforce the laws that govern appraisals, exemptions and the other issues that come before them and to ensure that property taxation is fair to all taxpayers. They are open-minded, courteous and willing to make tough decisions.

Unfortunately, the Texas Legislature never hears about the millions of instances in which ARBs do their jobs very well. They hear only the stories, real or imagined, about ARBs being incompetent or mere rubber stamps for appraisal districts. In response, legislators keep making the ARB process more complicated, providing new ways for property owners to complain, isolating ARBs from appraisal districts and making it more difficult for ARBs to get help. H.B. 1887 is part of a trend in legislation that I have observed for more than two decades.

The new law limiting communications with ARB members and prohibiting an ARB from using the same lawyers used by the appraisal district may create headaches for ARBs and appraisal districts, but it also creates opportunities. My goal is to cure the headaches and take advantage of the opportunities. With twenty-seven years of experience in Texas property-tax law, I can provide the answers that ARBs need and help them through the maze of requirements imposed by the Tax Code and other laws. My experience representing property owners in New Mexico helps me understand both sides of a dispute. I can address an ARB’s concerns promptly and without the restrictions and formalities that apply when an ARB seeks information from an appraisal district or a taxing unit. I want to help ARBs uphold the law, not find ways to avoid it.

The opportunities come from having a practice devoted exclusively to serving ARBs. A lawyer who represents appraisal districts, taxing units or property owners anywhere in Texas might be suspected of favoring the positions of those clients. But, a lawyer who works for ARBs exclusively cannot be accused of favoring any particular interest. I will give my best and most objective advice to an ARB on any question. The parties affected by the ARB’s decision cannot claim that my advice is influenced by some conflict of interest. This should help the public and the legislature understand that ARBs really are fair and impartial.

I hope that a practice devoted to ARBs will also provide a way for ARBs to stay informed about new developments and learn from each other. I can provide information about new court opinions and legislation. If one ARB (with or without my help) develops a creative solution to a problem, I can help share that solution with other ARBs. If other ARBs refine the solution, their refinements can also be shared. By sharing information and helping ARBs stay informed, we can avoid some of those occasional mistakes that cause property owners to complain and we can help ARBs receive the respect that they deserve.

 

 

- Roy L. Armstrong