January 25, 2019 – Appellate Shareholder Ryan Clinton recently achieved a successful result for a client in a tax case that is sure to have a significant impact to the procedure for property tax protests. On January 25, 2019, the Texas Supreme Court denied Travis Central Appraisal District’s petition for writ of mandamus in a landmark Texas tax case that affects the rights of every real-property owner in the State of Texas. The Court’s decision leaves in place the Austin Court of Appeals’s decision in In re Catherine Tower LLC, which holds that in an “unequal appraisal” protest of a governmental tax appraisal under Texas Tax Code Section 42.26(a)(3), the governmental tax-appraising entity is not entitled to discover evidence of the property’s fair-market value. 553 S.W.3d 679 (Tex. App.—Austin 2018, orig. proceeding).
The decision is a victory for all Texas property owners. For years, governmental appraising entities have used the litigation-discovery process to uncover the purchase prices of Texas properties—even when those purchase prices are irrelevant to the claims brought by the taxpayer. The appraising entities then use the information obtained in discovery to raise appraised values of all comparable properties within the appraisal district. The Austin Court of Appeals’s decision puts an end to that practice when the information sought is irrelevant to the particular claim in litigation.
Catherine Tower was represented by appellate shareholder Ryan Clinton.