HBA-KDB H.B. 2496 77(R) HBA-KDB H.B. 2496 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2496 By: Haggerty Ways & Means 3/18/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Under current law, a property owner may be awarded reasonable attorney's fees if an appraisal district appraises a property's value in excess of its market value or by appraising a property in an unequal manner when compared to property owned by other taxpayers. However, courts do not award attorney's fees even when appraisal districts violate the law, which may encourage appraisal districts to litigate without fear of repercussion. Without the assurance of attorney's fees, property owners may not be able to afford to take appraisal districts to court. In addition, taxing units are currently the only entities that are authorized to bring suits against appraisal districts who violate the Property Tax Code. There is some concern that the powers of an appraisal district or appraisal review board are not adequately limited. House Bill 2496 requires reasonable attorney's fees to be awarded to a property owner who prevails in an appeal to the court for a remedy for excessive or unequal appraisal, and authorizes certain persons to sue the appropriate appraisal district or appraisal review board for violating the Property Tax Code. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS House Bill 2496 amends the Tax Code to require, rather than authorize, the award of reasonable attorney's fees, not to exceed $100,000, to a property owner who prevails in an appeal to the court for a remedy for excessive or unequal appraisal. The bill authorizes a property owner, a lessee of property who is contractually obligated to pay taxes imposed on the property, or an agent of a property owner, in addition to a taxing unit, to sue the appropriate appraisal district or the appraisal review board established for that appraisal district to compel the appraisal district or appraisal review board to comply with provisions relating to property taxes, rules of the comptroller of public accounts, or other applicable law. The bill requires the court to award court costs and reasonable attorney's fees to a plaintiff who prevails in such a suit. EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.