Update: Houston Court of appeals holds e-mailed notice of final ARB order did not trigger commercial -property-owner’s 60-day deadline to file lawsuit where no agreement for electronic communication was on file
By Natalie A. Maloney | August 24, 2022
Mansion Partners, Ltd. v. Harris County Appraisal District, No. 01-20-00565-CV, 2022 WL 175357 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] January 20, 2022, no pet.)
This property tax case concerns e-mail delivery of an appraisal review board order without a Section 1.085 written agreement—an agreement regarding electronic communications.
As appraisal districts move toward conducting more business online, this case is important. It discusses the Texas Property Tax Code’s requirements for delivering notices by US mail, how to opt-in to delivery of notice by e-mail, and the impact the method of delivery has on a property owner’s 60-day lawsuit deadline to appeal an appraisal review board order.
In this case, the Houston Court of Appeals held that e-mail delivery of the ARB’s notice of an order determining the property owner’s protest did not trigger the 60-day deadline to file suit. There was no electronic communication agreement between the property owner or agent and the chief appraiser—made pursuant to Section 1.085 of the Code—that would have allowed delivery of the notice by e-mail or other electronic means.
Here, the property owner filed a lawsuit appealing an order of the ARB. The lawsuit was filed more than 60-days after the date of the ARB order. The appraisal district moved to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the suit was not timely filed, and the trial court lacked jurisdiction. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the property owner’s lawsuit. The property owner appealed. The court of appeals reversed and remanded—vindicating the property owner’s right to proper notice under the Code.
In its analysis, the court of appeals noted that the 60-day deadline is jurisdictional. The lawsuit must be filed within 60-days after the party “received notice” of the order. The court stated Section 1.07 of the Code generally requires that notice be delivered by first-class mail, but the parties may agree notice must be delivered electronically under Section 1.085.
A Section 1.085 agreement must be in writing or electronic form, signed by the property owner or agent and the chief appraiser, and include certain information. The court of appeals concluded that because the appraisal district could not show evidence of a Section 1.085 electronic communication agreement, or that the notice of the ARB order was delivered by mail, the appraisal district did not meet its burden to prove when notice was received or that the lawsuit was filed after the 60-day deadline.
Property tax professionals should note the property at issue was commercial. Section 1.086 of the Code addresses delivery of notices by e-mail for residential property occupied by the owner as the owner’s principal residence.
Key Sections of Texas Property Tax Code:
§ 1.07, Traditional Delivery of Notice by First-Class Mail
§ 1.085, E-Mail Delivery of Notice, Electronic Communication Agreements
§ 42.21, Lawsuit 60-Day Deadline
 This case concerns electronic communication under Section 1.085 of the Texas Property Tax Code. It expressly does not address delivery of notice by e-mail for owners of residential property occupied as a principal residence pursuant to Section 1.086 of the Code.
 The ARB order bore two dates: 7/30/2018 at the top and 7/20/2018 as the “signed on” date. The property owner filed an amended petition appealing the order on 9/26/2016.
 See Tex. Prop. Tax Code §42.21(a).
 Section 1.07 has a general requirement for delivery of notice by first-class mail unless another section requires or authorizes a different method. Section 41.47(d)(1) of the Code requires notice that a board order has been issued and a copy of the board order to be delivered by certified mail. Section 1.085 allows a property owner or agent to opt-in to delivery by electronic means.
 Certain information such as the type of communication covered, security measures to protect the communication, means for confirmation of delivery, and the email address of the property owner or agent.
 See also Section 41.47(d-1) of the Texas Property Tax Code, effective January 1, 2022, concerning the chief appraiser’s duty, in counties with a population of 120,000 and up, to deliver by e-mail a copy of the notice and order determining protest, on request, if the property at issue is not the subject of a Section 1.085 electronic communication agreement.