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TITLE 34PUBLIC FINANCE
PART 1COMPTROLLER OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
CHAPTER 9PROPERTY TAX ADMINISTRATION
SUBCHAPTER LPROCEDURES FOR PROTESTING COMPTROLLER PROPERTY VALUE STUDY AND AUDIT FINDINGS
RULE §9.4311Prehearing Exchange and Informal Conference

(a) After reviewing a petition, the division will send petitioner responses to the petitioner's relief requested in its grounds for objection. The division's responses may include rejection as set forth in this subchapter, agreement, disagreement, or modification. No response to a rejection shall be permitted. An agreement as to a ground for objection is deemed final resolution as to the ground for objection to which the division granted the requested relief.

(b) Petitioner will be given a reasonable period of time, but no less than 15 calendar days to accept the division's recommendations and waive any further consideration of the petition or to reply to the division's responses of disagreement and modification. A petitioner that does not accept the division's recommendations and waive further consideration of the petition shall reply advising the division, as to each ground for objection to which the division has responded with disagreement or modification, as to petitioner's agreement or disagreement. For each ground for objection as to which petitioner does not agree with the division's recommendation, petitioner must file with the division director all supplemental evidence supporting the ground for objection and provide the identity and resumé or summary of qualifications of each witness, other than the chief appraiser or other employees of the appraisal district that appraises property for a protesting school district, who may testify at any hearing on the ground for objection. Such testifying witnesses shall be identified in a list, identifying for each on which grounds for objection the witness may testify, and a current resumé, curriculum vitae, or summary of qualifications and identification of relevant certifications and licenses shall be provided for each witness. No witness identification is required for the chief appraiser or other employees of the appraisal district that appraises property for a protesting school district (including a school district made the subject of a protest filed by an authorized appraisal district as provided in this subchapter). The method of delivery, timeliness of filing, and number of copies required of the supplemental supporting evidence and witness disclosure shall be governed in accordance with the provisions of §9.4306 of this title (relating to Filing a Protest). All documentary evidence shall be filed in the following manner: organized and separated by cover sheets to correspond to each ground for objection, with each cover sheet clearly identifying the ground for objection number, category, and property identification number, company identification number, or land class and item of income or expense, as applicable. If one or more documents are included as evidence for more than one ground for objection, the documents may be marked and identified as an exhibit and provided only once, rather than copied for each applicable ground for objection. Each set of documents must be marked as a separate exhibit (for example, "Exhibit A," "Exhibit B," etc.). However, if documents are required under this subchapter to be submitted in triplicate, all documents are required to be submitted in triplicate, including exhibits. A petitioner's failure to timely respond as provided in this subsection constitutes final resolution of the petitioner's protest. A petitioner's failure to indicate, in an otherwise timely-filed response, agreement or disagreement in response to the division's response of disagreement or modification as to any ground for objection will constitute agreement as to the ground for objection and, thus, be deemed final resolution as to the ground for objection. All documents required pursuant to this subsection must be filed with petitioner's reply. Thus, all information required pursuant to this subsection must be filed together in one submission, even if petitioner's deadline to reply has not yet passed.

(c) Within 15 calendar days after receipt of petitioner's reply and evidence, if any, the division shall deliver to petitioner a copy of the documents created, collected, and utilized in conducting the study or performing the audit, as applicable, that the division plans to introduce as evidence relating to the grounds for objection and all rebuttal evidence regarding each ground for objection to which petitioner did not agree and provide the identity and resumé or summary of qualifications of each witness, other than comptroller employees, who may testify at any hearing on the ground for objection. Such testifying witnesses shall be identified in a list, identifying for each on which grounds for objection the witness may testify, and a current resumé, curriculum vitae, or summary of qualifications and identification of relevant certifications and licenses shall be provided for each witness. No witness identification is required for comptroller employees. All documentary evidence shall be filed in the following manner: organized and separated by cover sheets to correspond to each ground for objection, with each cover sheet clearly identifying the ground for objection number, category, and property identification number, company identification number, or land class and item of income or expense, as applicable. If one or more documents are included as evidence for more than one ground for objection, the documents may be marked and identified as an exhibit and provided only once, rather than copied for each applicable ground for objection.

(d) At or after the time that the division delivers its evidence to petitioner pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, the division will provide the petitioner with revised recommendations, if any, and notice of the date, time, and place of the informal conference to be held for consideration of petitioner's remaining grounds for objection, if any. A petitioner may accept the division's recommendations of disagreement or modification made to that point and waive further consideration of the petition or appear at the informal conference. Participation in the informal conference is a jurisdictional prerequisite to referral of grounds for objection to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) for hearing. Failure to appear at the scheduled informal conference will be deemed acceptance by the petitioner of the division's recommendations and waiver by the petitioner of further consideration of petitioner's protest. Notice under this subsection will be made by one of the following methods: U.S. first class mail, facsimile transmission, or e-mail.

(e) If the division has identified any failure of petitioner to properly comply with the requirements of labeling and organizing evidence, at the time of the informal conference the petitioner will be notified of such failure and given the opportunity to correct such failure through identification of evidence that was intended to correspond to grounds for objection that remain subject to referral to SOAH. This subsection does not apply to grounds for objection that have been rejected, grounds for objection that have been deemed resolved by agreement of the division, or grounds for objection that have been resolved by agreement of the petitioner. This subsection does not permit a petitioner to submit any additional information, documentation, or evidence. If a petitioner, in correcting a failure to properly comply with the requirements of labeling and organizing evidence, reorganizes the evidence in such a manner as to include evidence under a ground of objection other than the ground of objection understood by the division to be the ground of objection to which the evidence related when originally submitted and the matter is referred to SOAH, the division may submit additional rebuttal evidence, if necessary, upon referral to SOAH.

(f) If a petitioner and the division are unable to resolve all of the remaining grounds for objection timely raised in a petitioner's protest through the informal settlement conference, the petitioner may request a hearing before a SOAH Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

(g) A petitioner's request for a hearing before a SOAH ALJ shall be made by filing a written request with the division director no later than seven calendar days after the informal conference and must specifically identify all grounds for objection for which referral is requested and identify the individual(s) who will present argument and introduce evidence for petitioner at SOAH if a referral to SOAH is made.


Source Note: The provisions of this §9.4311 adopted to be effective January 26, 2011, 36 TexReg 268; amended to be effective January 9, 2013, 38 TexReg 150

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