Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler
from the 241st District Court of Smith County, Texas (Tr. Ct.
consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.
Andrew Munn appeals from the trial court's order of
dismissal in his suit appealing the Smith County Appraisal
District's denial of his tax protest. In two issues, Munn
asserts the trial court erred in dismissing the case and in
failing to grant Munn's post-verdict motions. We affirm.
owns a large tract of land that, until 2015, had enjoyed an
agricultural exemption. On October 9, 2015, Munn wrote a
letter to taxing authorities in Smith County requesting that
his tract of land "be put into agriculture exemption for
the year 2015." He explained that he "somehow
missed the application request from April." The Smith
County Appraisal Review Board considered his request and
determined that the property did not qualify for special
appraisal. On November 20, 2015, the Board ordered that the
Chief Appraiser for Smith County shall make no change to the
appraisal or records concerning the property at issue. On
January 20, 2016, Munn filed a petition in district court
appealing the Board's order. SCAD moved for dismissal for
lack of jurisdiction asserting that Munn failed to exhaust
his administrative remedies for his claims of excessive and
unequal appraisal, and he failed to tender any tax payment on
the property before the delinquency date, February 1, 2016,
thereby forfeiting his right to a determination of his
appeal. Munn did not respond to SCAD's motion
to dismiss. After a hearing on January 18, 2017, which
neither Munn nor his attorney attended, the trial court
granted the motion to dismiss.
February 17, 2017, Munn filed a document entitled
"Plaintiff's Motion to Reinstate, Motion for New
Trial, Motion to Reconsider and Set Aside or Reform Order on
Defendant's First Amended Motion to Dismiss for Lack of
Jurisdiction and Plaintiff's Property Tax Code Section
42.08(d) Motion for Substantial Compliance and/or Excusing
Prepayment." In support of his 42.08(d) motion, Munn
attached his affidavit of the same date in which he swore
that he was financially unable to pay the taxes on the due
date. He also stated that he later paid the undisputed
portion of the 2015 taxes. The trial court never ruled on
these motions. Munn filed his notice of appeal on April 3,
first issue, Munn contends the trial court erred in granting
SCAD's plea to the jurisdiction. He asserts that tax code
Section 42.08(e) requires SCAD to provide forty-five
days' notice of the hearing to the collector for each
taxing unit. He contends that the forty-five day notice is a
prerequisite to consideration of the plea to the
second issue, Munn asserts that the trial court erred in not
granting his motions to reinstate, for a new trial, or to
reconsider and set aside or reform the trial court's
order based on SCAD's failure to comply with the
statutory notice requirements. He further contends that,
concomitantly with his other motions, he filed a motion to be
excused from the pre-payment requirement because of his
inability to pay the taxes. He argues that his inability to
pay the taxes resulted in barring access to the court, and
reversal and remand of this case would allow for
consideration of his motion to be excused from the
statutory provisions of the tax code create rights and
remedies that are mandatory and exclusive and must be
complied with in all respects. Gregg Cty. Appraisal Dist.
v. Laidlaw Waste Sys., Inc., 907 S.W.2d 12, 16 (Tex.
App.-Tyler 1995, writ denied). Compliance with Section 42.08
is a jurisdictional prerequisite to the district court's
subject matter jurisdiction to determine a property
owner's rights. Welling v. Harris Cty. Appraisal
Dist., 429 S.W.3d 28, 31 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.]
2014, no pet.). Whether a trial court has subject matter
jurisdiction is a question of law that we review de novo.
Tex. Nat. Conservation Comm'n v. IT-Davy, 74
S.W.3d 849, 855 (Tex. 2002). The party seeking dismissal for
lack of jurisdiction maintains the burden of proof. Lee
v. El Paso Cty., 965 S.W.2d 668, 671 (Tex. App.-El Paso
1998, pet. denied).
review boards have exclusive original jurisdiction in ad
valorem tax cases and district courts have appellate
jurisdiction over appraisal review board orders. See
Cameron Appraisal Dist. v. Rourk, 194 S.W.3d 501, 502
(Tex. 2006) (per curiam). The tax code sets forth
administrative procedures for aggrieved property owners to
protest their tax liabilities. See Tex. Tax Code
Ann. chs. 41 - 42 (West 2015 & Supp. 2017). After an
administrative hearing, dissatisfied taxpayers are authorized
to appeal to the district court. See id.
§§ 42.01(1)(A), 42.06, 42.21.
property owner who appeals a decision of the review board is
required to pay, before the delinquency date, the lesser of
the undisputed tax amount, the tax due on the property under
the order from which the appeal is taken, or the amount of
taxes imposed on the property in the preceding tax year.
Id. § 42.08(b). Payment is a condition for
judicial review. See Cent. Appraisal Dist. of Rockwall
Cty. v. Lall, 924 S.W.2d 686, 690 (Tex. 1996). If the
property owner fails to pay one of those amounts, he forfeits
the right to proceed to a final determination of the appeal.
Tex. Tax Code Ann. § 42.08(b). Section 42.08(d) excuses
the owner from this requirement if the owner files an oath of
inability to pay the taxes ...