Historical Rule for the Texas Administrative Code

RULE §9.4261Provision of Arbitration Services

(a) An arbitration under Tax Code, Chapter 41A, commences with the initiation of a request for binding arbitration to appeal a specific order of the appraisal review board. The arbitration may be concluded, either without or after a hearing, by rejection or denial of the request for binding arbitration, issuance of the Arbitration Determination and Award (Form 50-704) which may include dismissal of the case, or withdrawal of the request for arbitration with or without execution of a settlement agreement between the parties finally resolving the matter. Arbitration services shall be provided pursuant to this section.

(b) Unless the property owner or agent and the appraisal district both agree to arbitration by submission of written documents only, the arbitration will be conducted in person or by teleconference. The arbitrator may decide whether to conduct the arbitration in person or by teleconference unless the property owner or agent indicates on the Request for Binding Arbitration (Form AP-219) that the arbitration be conducted in person or by teleconference only. If the arbitration is conducted in person, the arbitrator and both parties shall appear in person for the hearing. If the arbitration is conducted in person, the hearing must be held in the county where the appraisal district office is located and from which the appraisal review board order determining protest was issued, unless the parties agree to another location. The selected location must be in an office-type setting generally open to the public or to the arbitrator and includes conference rooms in an office or residential building.

(c) Upon acceptance of an appointment after the 45 calendar-day settlement period, the arbitrator shall contact promptly through the online arbitration system, by telephone, or electronic mail the property owner or agent and the appraisal district to notify the parties of his or her appointment, to propose one or more dates for the arbitration hearing, and to request alternate hearing dates from the parties if the date(s) proposed is not acceptable. The arbitrator should cooperate with the appraisal district and the owner or agent in scheduling the arbitration hearing.

(d) The arbitrator shall set the hearing date and serve written notice of the hearing information required by subsection (e) of this section as follows:

  (1) if the arbitrator, property owner, authorized individual or agent, and appraisal district have all agreed in writing to the same hearing date after consultation under subsection (c) of this section, the arbitrator shall serve the notice of hearing with the agreed date on the property owner or authorized individual or agent and the appraisal district by uploading it to the online arbitration system or by electronic mail and providing a paper copy to the property owner or authorized individual by first-class mail; or

  (2) if no agreement is reached after fourteen (14) or more calendar days of the arbitrator's initial contact attempt under subsection (c) of this section, the arbitrator shall set the hearing date, providing a minimum of 21 calendar-days notice before the hearing, and shall serve the notice on the property owner or authorized individual or agent and the appraisal district by uploading it to the online arbitration system or by electronic mail and providing a paper copy to the property owner or authorized individual through the U.S. Postal Service or a private third-party service such as FedEx or United Parcel Service (UPS) so long as proof of delivery is provided.

(e) The arbitrator shall provide or include in the written notice of hearing served under subsection (d) of this section, the following information:

  (1) the appraisal-district assigned arbitration number;

  (2) the date and time of the arbitration hearing;

  (3) the physical address of the hearing location if the hearing is in person;

  (4) the date by which the parties must exchange evidence before the hearing;

  (5) the arbitrator's contact information, including email address, phone number, and mailing address, as well as a fax number if available;

  (6) a copy of the arbitrator's written procedures for the hearing;

  (7) the methods, including through the online arbitration system, or by electronic mail, U.S. first-class mail, or overnight or personal delivery, by which the parties are to communicate and exchange materials; and

  (8) any other matter about which the arbitrator wishes to advise the parties before the hearing.

(f) The arbitrator may continue a hearing for reasonable cause. The arbitrator shall continue a hearing if both parties agree to the continuance. The arbitrator may hear and determine the controversy on the evidence produced at the hearing even if a party fails to appear so long as the party has received notice of the hearing pursuant to subsection (d) of this section. Appearance at the hearing waives any defect in the notice.

(g) Each party at the hearing is entitled to be heard; present evidence material to the controversy; and cross-examine any witness. The arbitrator shall ask each witness testifying to swear or affirm that the testimony he or she is about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The arbitrator's decision is required to be based solely on the evidence provided at the hearing.

(h) The arbitrator shall decide to what extent the arbitration hearing procedures are formal or informal. The arbitrator shall have available at the hearing a copy of the written procedures the arbitrator previously delivered to the parties with the hearing notice. The parties shall be allowed to record audio of the proceedings, but may record video only with the consent of the arbitrator.

(i) The parties to an arbitration proceeding may represent themselves or, at their own cost, may be represented by an agent if the requirements of §9.4253 of this title (relating to Agent Representation in Arbitration) have been met.

(j) An arbitrator should behave in a professional manner at all times in rendering arbitration services. An arbitrator should treat the parties with respect in the course of the binding arbitration proceeding. The arbitrator shall not engage in conduct that creates a conflict of interest.

(k) The confidentiality provisions of Tax Code, §22.27, concerning information provided to an appraisal office, apply to confidential information provided to arbitrators. The information may not be disclosed except as provided by law.

(l) The arbitrator shall not communicate with the owner, the appraisal district, or an agent, nor shall the owner, the appraisal district, or an agent communicate with the arbitrator, prior to the arbitration hearing or after the arbitration hearing and before the arbitration determination and award is issued, concerning specific evidence, argument, facts, or the merits, regarding the property subject to arbitration. Such communications may be grounds for the removal of the arbitrator from the comptroller's registry of arbitrators.

(m) The arbitrator shall dismiss a pending arbitration action with prejudice, for lack of jurisdiction, under any one of the following circumstances:

  (1) that taxes on the property subject to the appeal are delinquent because for any prior year, all property taxes due have not been paid or because for the year at issue, the undisputed tax amount was not paid before the delinquency date set by the applicable section of Tax Code, Chapter 31;

  (2) that the ARB order(s) appealed did not determine a protest filed pursuant to Tax Code, §41.41(a)(1) or (2) concerning either the appraised or market value of the property or unequal appraisal of the property;

  (3) that the appraised or market value of the property as determined in the ARB order was either more than $5 million or the property did not qualify as the owner's residence homestead under Tax Code, §11.13;

  (4) that the request for arbitration was filed with the appraisal district more than 45 calendar days after the date the owner received the ARB order determining the protest;

  (5) that the owner filed an appeal with the district court under Tax Code, Chapter 42, concerning the value of the property at issue in the pending arbitration; or

  (6) that the owner or agent and appraisal district have executed a written agreement resolving the matter.

(n) When a binding arbitration proceeding is brought pursuant to Tax Code, §41A.03(a-1) involving two or more contiguous tracts of land, the arbitrator shall dismiss from consideration in the proceeding each tract of land and each appraisal review board order appealed in which it is determined that any of the circumstances set forth in subsection (m) of this section apply to the particular tract or ARB order. However, the combined total value of all ARB orders appealed may exceed the $5 million threshold so long as each individual tract meets the $5 million limit.

(o) The arbitrator must complete an arbitration proceeding in a timely manner and will make every effort to complete the proceeding within 120 days from his or her acceptance of the appointment. Failure to comply with the timely completion of arbitration proceedings may constitute good cause for removal of the arbitrator from the comptroller's registry of arbitrators pursuant to §9.4262(b) of this title (relating to Removal of Arbitrator from the Registry of Arbitrators).

Source Note: The provisions of this §9.4261 adopted to be effective May 29, 2018, 43 TexReg 3459

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