ABT Galveston L.P. v. Galveston Cent. Appraisal Dist
In ABT Galveston L.P. v. Galveston Cent. Appraisal Dist., 137 S.W.3d 146 (Tex. App.--Houston 1st Dist. 2004, no pet.), the taxpayers entered into an agreement with the taxing authorities that provided the taxpayers with an exemption from ad valorem property taxes for a period of seven years. Id. at 147-48.
The agreement allowed the taxing authorities to declare the taxpayers in default if they failed to comply with certain obligations, but it also required the taxing authorities to give the taxpayers written notice of, and sixty days to cure, any alleged default. Id. at 148.
Eventually, the taxpayers defaulted on the agreement, and the taxing authorities voted to cancel the tax abatement agreement. Id. at 149.
The taxing authorities notified the taxpayers they were in default, and one week later, the taxing authorites demanded payment. Id.
The taxpayers then sent a letter protesting the taxing authorities' failure to give notice and requested a hearing before the Galveston Appraisal Review Board. Id. at 150.
The review board denied the hearing. Id. A few months later, the taxpayers filed suit against the taxing authorities seeking a refund of taxes. Id.
The taxpayers argued the taxing authorities failed to deliver proper or timely notice before removing their exemption and attempting to collect the taxes. Id.
In their answer, the taxing authorities asserted various affirmative defenses, including the taxpayers' alleged failure to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit. Id. at 151.
The taxing authorities then filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. Id.
On appeal, the appellate court upheld the summary judgment in favor of the taxing authorities because the taxpayers failed to timely pursue or exhaust the administrative remedies available under the Tax Code to protest the taxing authorities' actions; therefore, the trial court did not have jurisdiction to hear the taxpayers' claims. Id. at 154-58.
The court distinguished its prior holding in Inwood Dad's Club, Inc. v. Aldine Independent School District, 882 S.W.2d 532 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1994, no writ) on the basis the taxpayers in ABT Galveston received some form of notice, even though the notice was improper. Id. at 156.
The court stated "in the present case, having received notice directly from the taxing authorities of the cancellation of the tax exemptions and of the 'unofficial' appraised value of the facility . . . the taxpayers were aware of the fact that they had not received, as they alleged, notice to which they were entitled." Id. at 157.