Appeal from the 157th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 2015-20038
consists of Justices Boyce, Jamison, and Brown.
W. Brown Justice
Powder Solutions, Inc., filed a motion to correct the 2013
appraisal rolls. The Appraisal Review Board ("ARB")
determined that it did not have jurisdiction to consider or
grant the relief requested and dismissed Advanced
Powder's motion. Advanced Powder appealed to the trial
court. The Harris County Appraisal District
("HCAD") filed a plea to the jurisdiction
contending Advanced Powder did not pay its 2013 taxes before
they became delinquent. The trial court granted HCAD's
plea and dismissed the suit without stating its reasons. In
five issues, Advanced Powder contends the trial court erred
in granting HCAD's plea to the jurisdiction and motion to
dismiss. We conclude that Advanced Powder forfeited its right
to a final determination on its motion by failing to timely
pay the taxes due under section 25.26 of the Texas Tax Code.
As a result, Advanced Powder did not exhaust its
administrative remedies and the trial court did not have
jurisdiction to make a final determination on the motion. We
affirm the judgment of the trial court.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Powder began doing business in Harris County at 12245 FM 529
Road, Building H, Houston, Texas 77041 in March 2012.
Advanced Powder was subject to Harris County property taxes
starting in 2013. HCAD mailed a Notice of Appraised Value
("Notice") to Advanced Powder at 12245 FM 529 RD
STE H, Houston, TX 77041-2815. The Notice stated an appraised
value of $1, 287, 743 for inventory located at 12247 FM 529
RD H, Houston, TX 77041, a location where Advanced Powder has
never done business. Advanced Powder did not receive the
Notice. Advanced Powder did not timely pay the
2013 taxes and a tax warrant was issued on July 24, 2014. The
tax warrant was executed and served on Advanced Powder on
September 16, 2014. Advanced Powder paid the full amount of
taxes owed at that time.
Powder filed a Form 25.25, Real Property Request/Motion
("Correction Motion") to correct the appraisal roll
related to its 2013 taxes on September 30, 2014. See
Tex. Tax Code Ann. § 25.25 (West 2015). A hearing on the
Correction Motion was held before the ARB. At the hearing,
the ARB panel inquired whether the undisputed amount of the
2013 taxes had been paid timely. See id. §
25.26 (West 2015). Advanced Powder presented no evidence to
establish the payment of 2013 taxes before the delinquency
date of February 1, 2014. The ARB dismissed the Correction
Motion based on a lack of jurisdiction to consider or grant
the relief requested.
issued an order of dismissal stating "[t]he board
determined that it does not have jurisdiction to consider or
grant the relief requested." Advanced Powder appealed
that decision to the trial court. HCAD filed a plea to the
jurisdiction and motion to dismiss contending the trial court
did not have jurisdiction because Advanced Powder did not
timely pay its 2013 taxes. In the alternative, HCAD argued
Advanced Powder was not entitled to a correction under
section 25.25(c) because the appropriate procedure to
challenge the assessed value of property was under chapter 41
or section 25.25(d). The trial court signed an order granting
HCAD's plea to the jurisdiction and motion to dismiss on
April 8, 2016. This appeal followed.
issues, Advanced Powder challenges the trial court's
grant of HCAD's plea to the jurisdiction and motion to
dismiss. First, Advanced Powder contends the trial court
erred in granting HCAD's motion to dismiss because it met
the requirements for a correction of the appraisal roll under
section 25.25(c). Second, Advanced Powder contends the trial
court erred if it granted HCAD's plea under section
42.01(a)(1)(B) because Advanced Powder stated a claim within
the trial court's jurisdiction under that section. Third,
Advanced Powder contends the trial court erred if it granted
HCAD's plea based on the payment requirements of section
25.26 because it met the payment requirements under section
42.08(b). Fourth, Advanced Powder contends the trial court
erred if it granted HCAD's plea under section
42.01(a)(1)(C) because that section is inapplicable. Finally,
Advanced Powder contends the trial court erred if it granted
HCAD's plea based on any failure to exhaust
begin by addressing Advanced Powder's second, third,
fourth, and fifth issues. Taken together, these issues
challenge the trial court's grant of HCAD's plea
contending it satisfied the jurisdictional requirements for a
claim under section 25.25(c), which permits a tax roll to be
corrected under certain circumstances. HCAD contends the
trial court's judgment was proper and Advanced Powder
forfeited its right to a final determination of its
Correction Motion under section 25.26, which forecloses
relief under section 25.25 unless the taxpayer timely pays
under protest the undisputed taxes. We must determine whether
the trial court has jurisdiction over a section 25.25(c)
claim on appeal when the property owner admittedly did not
timely pay its taxes under section 25.26.
Standard of review
to the jurisdiction is a dilatory plea; its purpose is
"to defeat a cause of action without regard to whether
the claims asserted have merit." Bland Indep. Sch.
Dist. v. Blue, 34 S.W.3d 547, 554 (Tex. 2000). The plea
challenges the trial court's jurisdiction over the
subject matter of a pleaded cause of action. Tex.
Dep't of Parks and Wildlife v. Miranda, 133 S.W.3d
217, 226 (Tex. 2004). We review a trial court's ruling on
a plea to the jurisdiction de novo. Id. at 228;
Woodway Drive, L.L.C. v. Harris Cty. Appraisal
Dist., 311 S.W.3d 649, 651 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th
Dist.] 2010, no pet.).
a plea to the jurisdiction challenges the pleadings, we
determine if the pleader has alleged facts that affirmatively
demonstrate the court's jurisdiction to hear the
cause." Miranda, 133 S.W.3d at 226. We must
accept as true all factual allegations in the petition,
construe the pleadings liberally, and look to the
pleader's intent. Id. at 226-27; Woodway
Drive, 311 S.W.3d at 651. To prevail on a plea to the
jurisdiction, the defendant must demonstrate that even if all
the plaintiff's pleaded allegations are true, an
incurable jurisdictional defect remains on the face of the
pleadings that deprives the trial court of subject matter
jurisdiction. Woodway Drive, 311 S.W.3d at 652. A
trial court may consider the pleadings and any evidence
pertinent to the jurisdictional inquiry. Id.
Proceedings before the ARB
Texas Tax Code provides detailed administrative procedures
for those who would contest their property taxes."
Cameron Appraisal Dist. v. Rourk, 194 S.W.3d 501,
502 (Tex. 2006). The administrative procedures in the Tax
Code are exclusive. See Tex. Tax Code Ann. §
42.09 (West 2015). Exclusive original jurisdiction was
bestowed upon appraisal review boards by the legislature in
ad valorem tax cases. See Rourk, 194 S.W.3d at 502.
"This administrative review process is intended to
'resolve the majority of tax protests at this level,
thereby relieving the burden on the court system.'"
Harris Cty. Appraisal Dist. v. ETC Marketing, Ltd.,
399 S.W.3d 364, 367 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2013,
pet. denied) (citing Webb Cty. Appraisal Dist. v. New
Laredo Hotel, Inc., 792 S.W.2d 952, 954 (Tex. 1990)).
Powder filed its Correction Motion under section 25.25(c) of
the Texas Tax Code. This section permits a property owner to
correct errors in the appraisal roll after the time limits
for a chapter 41 administrative protest to the ARB have
expired, but limits the property owner's ability to
change approved tax appraisal rolls. See U. Lawrence
Boze' & Assocs., P.C. v. Harris Cty. Appraisal
Dist., 368 S.W.3d 17, 25 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.]
2011, no pet.). If the chief appraiser and property owner do
not agree on the correction, then the property owner is
entitled to a hearing and determination of the motion by the
ARB. Tex. Tax Code Ann. § 25.25(e).
property owner who files a section 25.25(c) motion must
comply with the payment requirements of section 25.26 or
forfeit the right to a final determination of the motion.
Id. § 25.25(e). Section 25.26(b) requires that:
Except as provided by Subsection (d), a property owner who
files a motion under Section 25.25 must pay the amount of
taxes due on the portion of the taxable value of the property
that is the subject of the motion that is not in dispute
before the delinquency date or the property owner forfeits
the right to proceed to a final determination of the motion.
Id. § 25.26(b). Generally "taxes are due
upon receipt of the tax bill and are delinquent if not paid
before February 1 of the year following the year in which
imposed." Id. § 31.02(a) (West Supp.
2016). Section 25.26(d) permits a property owner claiming
indigence to be excused from the timely payment of taxes
before the determination of a motion if the ARB finds payment
would constitute an unreasonable ...