Property tax consultant accusing Fort Bend Co. board of illegal practices

July 31, 2013 5:55:54 AM PDT
A tax battle is now underway in Fort Bend County after a property tax consultant alleged illegal practices by that county's appraisal review board. A complaint has been filed with the state. It all has to deal with people who are fighting their property taxes.

This property tax consultant has filed serious allegations with the Texas Attorney General's Office against those who decide how much you pay on your property taxes if you live in Fort Bend County.

Your home is not just where your heart is as has been said. Its also likely the largest investment you have. And in Fort Bend County, some are alleging that property is being taxed unethically and illegally.

"Homeowners are not able to get a fair hearing at the Fort Bend Appraisal Review Board," said Pat O'Connor with O'Connor & Associates.

According to the complaint filed with the AG by O'Connor & Associates, the Fort Bend Appraisal Review Board has a policy of not accepting reductions in property valuations over 5 percent. Instead, they say the board "...ignore(s) the tax code and pick an arbitrary value." It also alleges that they "improperly reject evidence" that would support reductions.

"I've never seen it this egregious," O'Connor said. "It's just much worse than anything I've ever seen before."

We went inside a hearing in Fort Bend Wednesday.

"I have to be honest with you. I'm very, very distraught about this," said Fort Bend Appraisal Review Board Chair Tom Demont.

Demont categorically denies the allegations, saying the board has no policy that limits reductions. He insists they have never picked arbitrary values and says any claim that they've done anything illegal or unethical is incorrect.

"Very -- what's the nice way of putting it? False. I'm just gonna be nice about it -- false," Demont said.

No homeowners there were willing to talk to us about the allegations. Some suggested their cases might be affected were they to speak.

Demont says valuations might be higher in many cases this year.

The AG's office would only acknowledge receipt of the complaint, saying there is an investigation underway they tell us would not be accurate.

Full disclosure: Kevin Quinn is a resident of Fort Bend County and has recently challenged his property tax assessment.

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