News Archive | mvba Law


Delinquent Collections for Texas Cities

The Marshall News Messenger masthead

mvba makes the local news.

Presenting our collection efforts on behalf of the City of Marshall to the City Council meeting

When the City Council of Marshall met late last year, reporter Jessica Harker from the Marshall News Messenger was there to take notes on how the City benefits from mvba’s services. Her resulting article ran on December 22, 2023 and you can find it here. In it, she detailed the City’s handling of delinquent tax, fines and fees (F&F) collections using this firm as their third-party vendor. City Manager Terrell Smith introduced to meeting attendees both Liz Vaughn, Shareholder of the Longview office, and John Morris representing our F&F team. This joint presentation was their first for the city and will continue annually.

First up, the successful collection of delinquent F&F

John shared with the City that mvba has handled 13,248 cases on its behalf in the last seven years. Forty-six-and-a-half percent (46.58%) of those cases have been collected and/or otherwise resolved through our efforts, resulting in over $1 million ($1,017,256.23) paid to the City, which would have been lost, if they hadn’t been pursued. Another $2-plus million ($2,352,627.23) were otherwise resolved through these efforts, representing 6,171 cases canceled, closed, or struck from the record. This means the Municipal Court no longer has to track these cases.

John also shared a full breakdown of the disposition, or status, of cases. That is, whether they had been paid in full or if partial payment had been made, as well as cases that were canceled by the Municipal Court or otherwise resolved.

Lastly, John showed the City Council a quarterly breakdown of the communications mvba conducted on behalf of the City to resolve each case.

Delinquent property tax collections are also going well

After John completed his presentation and answered questions, Liz shared about the goings on of the delinquent tax side of collections.

mvba does not have an individual contract with the City, rather we service it through our partnership with Harrison County and Harrison CAD. As Harker writes, the firm has “a wide range of ways [we] are working to collect on the city’s around $880 thousand outstanding delinquent property taxes.”

Liz explained how the property taxation process and calendar in Texas. Property value is assessed on January 1. On October 1, property tax statements are mailed by the taxing entity to all property owners. On February 1 of the following year, the previous year’s property taxes become delinquent. That is, property owners have all of the first month of the next year to pay property taxes. The taxing entity turns over the delinquent tax cases to mvba for further collection efforts on July 1, five months after they became delinquent. We work all cases until they’re paid, canceled, closed or otherwise resolved,regardless of how long they’ve been outstanding.

Liz also shared a full breakdown of how many delinquent tax cases are in each stage of the process, including, but not limited to, number of cases currently involved in litigation or that have already reached a judgment, cases still being researched, cases in bankruptcy, cases that are uncollectible or have an unknown address, as well as tax-deferrals for over-65 and disability.

The total delinquent tax collections for any given year will be over 100% of the adjusted tax levy, owing to statutorily allowed penalty and interest assignments for late ad valorem taxes.

Also included in Liz’s presentation were the total number of notices and personal property notices mailed, as well as the total number of properties in district court suits, total for which judgments had been taken, and total for which tax warrants had been issued. Lastly, she gave a detailed discussion of properties subject to tax sale procedures and bankruptcy proceedings.

We are pleased to be able to serve our clients with best-in-class delinquent collections for both fines and fees and property taxes. Our efforts result in more money returning to our client’s communities for their use in better serving their public.

If your City or Municipality would like to discuss how mvba can serve your delinquent collection needs, please don’t hesitate to call us at (512) 323-3200.

2023 TAAO Awards

TAAO honors mvba team members, again

2023 conference awards educators

Two of mvba’s finest were recognized for their achievements at the Texas Association Of Assessing Officers (TAAO) & Institute of Certified Tax Administrators’ (ICTA) 84th-annual conference and awards ceremony held in Grapevine at the Gaylord Texan Resort in August.

Connor Buchanan and Connie Rose proudly display their 2023 TAAO trophies.

TAAO is a non-profit leader in property tax education and has been providing networking opportunities for Texas tax pros for over 80 years. ICTA is an internal division of TAAO responsible for establishing and maintaining the highest standards of performance and education for its members. The Awards Luncheon held on the second day of the conference is a well-attended and looked-forward-to event. 

Award-winning Texas property tax educators

2023 Marillyn Albert Achievement Award

Connie Rose, our Director of Truth in Taxation, was given the group’s highest lifetime honor, the 2023 Marillyn Albert Achievement Award. The award is named in memory of TAAO’s Past President and Executive Director Marillyn Albert Harkins. Marillyn took over the organization when it fell on hard times and turned it around, taking it further than anyone could have imagined. She encouraged everyone to “go above and beyond what we thought possible to reach our deeper potential for TAAO, our respective communities and ourselves,” according to the organization’s website. 

In giving her the Marillyn Albert Achievement Award, TAAO recognizes these same exceptional leadership qualities, professionalism, and can-do spirit in Connie Rose. They honor both her time with mvba and her career with the Texas Comptroller’s Property Tax Assistance Division. We couldn’t agree more. Connie embodies Marillyn Albert Harkins’ spirit, and ours, of Going further… Congratulations, Connie, well earned!

2023 TAAO Instructor of the Year Award

In the same ceremony, Shareholder and Attorney Connor Buchanan was recognized for his delivery, integrity and dedication to teaching other professionals in the Texas property tax industry with the 2023 TAAO Instructor of the Year Award

We are pleased to welcome Connor to the mvba winners’ circle. In winning this year’s title, Connor continues the firm’s tradition of excellence in Texas property tax continuing education. mvba team members have swept this award category since 2014. Previous winners are Scott Howard and Connie Rose. 

Winning nominees for this yearly contest are chosen based on student evaluations from courses taught throughout the year. Connor is certified by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation to teach Property Tax Courses 7: Property Tax Law, 9: Advanced Assessment and Collections, and 28: Truth in Taxation.

When he’s not teaching continuing education for fellow tax industry professionals, Connor is the Client Development Chair for mvba. He advises Central Texas and Panhandle client tax offices and appraisal districts in all areas of ad valorem tax law and manages delinquent tax collections programs for them.

Property tax continuing education is another way we’re Going further…

If your district has professional development needs

Please reach out to mvba to schedule with our award-winning educators. 512-323-3200.

$5,679,670 recovered budget for client districts

MVBA’s Taxable Value Audits (TVAs) resulted in over $63,000 of Texas state funds for Hooks ISD.Our Taxable Value Audit (TVA) team cannot forecast whether any district will be eligible for financial relief in a given school year as it varies with changes to the school district’s property tax roll. 

That’s why mvba’s TVA team conducts a thorough review every school year, for every client district. 

“We look at the district’s property tax roll at the time it was certified to the state by the chief appraiser and compare it to the value of the tax roll after the chief appraiser updates the corrections to the tax role,” says Phil Green, Director of the TVA team.

“What often happens is that a handful of homestead values may change, various exemptions may be applied, properties may be added or deleted from the appraisal district rolls, and other granular changes, which would affect the school district’s taxable liability. Either up or down.” 

If the process shows the district’s taxable value is higher than when it was certified, then an audit will not be submitted. 

But if the process shows a lower value than originally certified, the superintendent has to request an audit from the Texas State Comptroller’s Office. The Comptroller’s Office compare their findings against the district’s and agree or disagree with the new assessment. When the comptroller agrees with the new number, they pass that along to the Texas Education Agency, which will send a refund.

If the process of a taxable value review shows a lower value, but the district never requests a formal Taxable Value Audit from the State, the district will not realize a budget gain. 

Going Further to help Texas school districts get the funding they deserve

“Since no agency at the state level is set up to conduct this “parity” process, and it’s pretty in-the-weeds stuff for most smaller school districts, but it can result in much-needed extra funds for our school communities, mvba is pleased to do this as part of our ongoing client service,” says Bryant Smith, Executive Director. 

“Other firms charge anywhere from a 1-10% contingency fee on dollars returned from TEA. mvba does all of this free of charge for our clients. Client districts benefit from our insight, expertise, and experience. At this point, we have these audits down to a well-oiled process. When we advise superintendents to pursue an audit with the Comptroller, we’re there beside them every step of the way, preparing the necessary paperwork and filings.” 


Over $6 million in TVA returns to school district clients found for 2017 school year

MVBA conducts annual taxable value audits for its school district clients.

Yearly taxable value audits (TVA) found almost $600 million in reductions.

T2* Reduction for 2017 in 2021 Estimated Taxable Value Audits (TVA) Returns
$598,220,713 $6,221,495

This chart explained

mvba conducts administrative audits, called TVAs, for each tax year for each client.

Upon joining the firm in early 2020 as our Director of Taxable Value Audits, Phil Green, formerly of the State Comptroller’s office, began his rigorous methodical review for each of our Texas school district clients, comparing the State’s certified value to actual local tax rolls. In 2021, Phil completed his review of the 2017 tax year. The timeline for submitting any discrepancies found, through a process of certifying to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), closes for each tax year after three years have passed.

Property taxes directly impact Texas school district funding.

School district funding is a complicated calculation combining state and local funds. The local tax effort is “an essential component of the state’s school finance formulas,” according to the TEA’s website.

A district’s total property tax rate includes their rate for maintenance and operations (M&O) as well as, where applicable, for interest and sinking (I&S). The I&S rate is for payments on a district’s facilities debt. These rates are per $100 of taxable property valuation. The combined total comprises the local funding for each school district.

According to the Comptroller, 54.1% of all property taxes levied in tax year 2017 were levied by Texas school districts to the tune of $32.1 billion. During that time, property values were rising which meant that many school districts were able to cover their M&O costs without raising rates.

Property tax situations in a district change throughout the tax year.

“When the appraisal district (AD) reports the tax roll to the TEA, it’s as a snapshot in time. But the situation on the ground is in constant flux. Homesteads are added as new housing stock is built. More, or fewer, over-65 households move into the district, or leave. Other exemptions we look at include veteran’s and agricultural. So, the AD snapshot is a solid base to work from, but we can create a more accurate, granular school district taxable value, called a T2 value, for our clients. When it’s gone down, it means they didn’t receive that money from their tax base, even though that’s what the TEA was expecting based on the snapshot. We certify the reduction in their T2 taxable value to the TEA, which results in money coming back to them or less money they have to pay in, depending on their situation.”

For the 2017 tax year, mvba certified 60 TVAs to the TEA amounting to $598M in T2 reductions.

“Comparing that number to the $32.1 billion total tax bill that Texas property owners paid in 2017 may seem insignificant, but you have to put it in perspective,” says Bryant Smith, mvba’s Executive Director. “Texas had 1,018 school districts in 2017. The top 3, Houston, Austin, and Dallas, each levied over $100 billion in property taxes. The next 50 or so levied $10 billion or more. The next 250 or so school districts were above $1 billion. The bottom 500 school districts assess about a third of that or less. So, $598 million may not seem like much for the big rich districts, but even for them it wouldn’t be nothing. The funds coming out of those reductions could be used to pay for more faculty, staff, or other resources. We all know every little bit helps.”

You can find all of the facts listed above in the TEA’s Property Tax Assistance Division’s (PTAD) Final Tax spreadsheet for 2017 (used for school funding in school year 2018-2019) on their website in Excel or pdf format. The site also provides final worksheets for tax years 2007-2019 and the preliminary worksheet for 2020.

While other companies charge up 10% of the dollars returned to the ISD. We charge nothing.

mvba performs TVAs, among other services, as part of our regular ongoing client care. We do not assess a contingency fee, or any other fee, for conducting these audits or for certifying the results to the TEA so that school funding can be corrected in our clients’ favor. This is just part of how we serve our client communities.

Texas School District Funding

Phil Green at MVBA Law helps ensure proper TEA funds reach Texas school districts

Going further to help Texas school districts receive appropriate State funding

$12,640,821.11 for our clients’ school communities

“In just over a year since we welcomed Phil Green to the mvba team as Director of Taxable Value Audits, we have been able to provide a return of approximately $12,640,821.11 to Texas school districts from the Texas Education Agency (TEA),” says D. Bryant Smith, Executive Director. “We’re so proud to be able to take care of our clients in this way with proactive taxable value audits.”

A taxable value audit (TVA) is a measurement tool used by the various agencies that are involved in determining TEA funding for school districts. It allows school districts to go back and reexamine values they reported during a specific year.

“What we do,” explains Phil, “is help recover lost budget revenue that the school districts wouldn’t necessarily receive if their taxable value is reported as it is now. My office focuses on the local side of the Comptroller’s ratio study of a given school district’s taxable value. I look at how the value was assessed by the appraisal district and I double check to see if there’s been any reduction in market value in the meantime. I also check if there’ve been added exemptions; that is, properties paying less than their assessed tax rate.”

If the market value of the area goes down, the taxable liability needs to be lowered to reflect the lower tax base. If a school district has a diminished tax base, they may qualify for more funds from the TEA or to receive a refund of some portion of the monies they’ve already submitted to the TEA.

“When Phil determines that local values are lower, he files a report immediately to try to recover value for mvba’s clients. He’s been working this beat and refining his approaches for over 20 years, and for the 19 years prior to joining our team, he worked at the State Comptroller’s Office. Our clients get the benefit of that experience for free, regardless of how much money he recovers for them. Taxable value audits are part and parcel of our exceptional client service.”

201 TVAs performed in 2020

The TVA office has closed out the review of the 2016 school year and TVAs for gas compressor litigation dating back to 2012. This gas compressor litigation included changes outside of the TVA three-year window, which can only be filed within one year of a related judgment. TVAs filed under special circumstances like these can be used to recover substantial losses for the client.

The 2017 TVAs will be reviewed until August 2021. Districts have three years to complete this process after they file a Property Value Study. Beginning in August, Phil’s office will start working through 2019 reports.

The State changed its funding model to account for current year values in 2018. Before that, they used the prior year value certified by the Texas Comptroller’s Office to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to assess school budgets. As a result of this change to the funding model, mvba will not file TVAs for 2018.

Contact Phil Green today to ensure your ISD receives proper TEA funding. 512-323-3200

Helping Wilco Serve Its Communities

Going Further for Our Clients’ Communities

Wilco Forward Small Business Grant Program partnered with MVBA

Proud to partner with Wilco Forward Small Business Grant Program

Helping small businesses in Williamson County recover from the pandemic

On March 16, 2021, the Williamson County Commissioners’ voted unanimously to approve a Grant Administration Services Agreement to allow mvba to help the County administer the second phase of their Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act aid. Specifically, mvba will process and review all applications as they are received to make sure that they are complete in their information and documentation. They will determine eligibility and grant amount for each application. mvba will provide this info to the Williamson County Treasurer and Williamson County Auditor for final review, decision, processing and distribution of grants.

Second round of aid for essential food services in North Austin suburbs

Williamson County will disburse $10 million to food service, bar, and hotel/motel businesses who qualify and apply for funds by April 16, 2021, at Eligible businesses include not just brick-and-mortar restaurants, but also food trucks, caterers, and bed and breakfasts. These businesses stand to receive grant money up to $500 per employee, capped at $10,000 per business. Businesses selling gasoline or diesel will not qualify.

Over $34 million already granted to thousands of businesses in Wilco Forward

In their first round of aid earlier in the pandemic, the County’s Wilco Forward program to disburse federal aid helped over 3,600 local businesses with grants. According to Claire Osborn at the Austin American-Statesman, this second round of money “comes from funds left over from the $93 million the county received in the CARES Act in April [of 2020].”

mvba’s deep client service benefits Texas communities

“We’re proud to partner with Williamson County always, and especially in these very trying times. They have been a premier client of the firm since 1994. Not to mention, we’re based in Williamson County and have been since 2007.” says Bryant Smith, Executive Director of mvba from the Round Rock office. “This is typical of the level of service we extend to all of our clients across Texas. We were glad when they asked us to roll up our sleeves and pitch in. We try to go above and beyond expectations in all of our interactions; that’s why our tagline is Going Further.”

Henderson County Collections High

Original article published on Athens Daily Review – June 27, 2017

Henderson County has collected more than 100 percent of the amount levied during the past year, according to an official with the company that pursues delinquent taxes for the county.

Elizabeth Vaughn of McCreary, Veselka, Bragg & Allen, P.C. of Round Rock, told Commissioners Court on Tuesday that the total revenue for 2015 taxes was 100.72 percent of the amount levied. For each of the past four years, that figure has exceeded 100 percent.

Click here to read the full article. 

Burnet County Enters Delinquent Property Tax Digital Age

First Online Delinquent Property Tax Sale in Texas

Round Rock, TX (June 9, 2017) – On June 6, the Burnet County Central Appraisal District conducted its first delinquent property tax sale through an online auction. This technological advance is expected to put more funds in the coffers of the local governments so that they may continue to serve this growing community of almost 45,000.

An online auction allows more bidders to participate, regardless of weather, traffic, additional tax sales or other conditions that may otherwise limit their ability to arrive at the courthouse steps on the first Tuesday of any given month. Not only is it more convenient for local bidders, it opens sales to bidders in the Austin tech-hub, which is about 60 miles to the southeast of this Texas Hill Country community. In fact, bidders from around the world can now make real-time bids on these properties without having to be there in person.

Counties, cities, school districts and local governments like those in Burnet rely on delinquent tax collections to recoup essential operating revenue needed for vital community services like emergency response, veterans’ affairs, roads and law enforcement. When a resident is unable to pay their property taxes in a timely manner, they potentially face legal action.

In Burnet County, certain properties are offered for sale to the highest bidder on the courthouse steps when their owners do not pay property taxes that are owed to the local governments. According to Chief Appraiser Stan Hemphill, between 30 to50 properties are auctioned this way every year.

As previously reported in the, Burnet County commissioners took formal action to approve this innovative online auction system in February after the mandated 90-day waiting period.

Burnet County partnered with mvba, the law firm of McCreary, Veselka, Bragg and Allen, P.C. (“mvba”), head quartered in Round Rock, to design, implement, and run the online platform. “It is a real thrill for mvba to partner with Burnet County to do the first online delinquent property tax sale in the State of Texas,” noted Matthew Tepper, a Partner at mvba. “As other counties start implementing their own online delinquent property tax sales, Burnet County will be the model they follow. Judge Oakley and Chief Appraiser Stan Hemphill should be credited for taking the lead in the evolution of the tax sale process. It is an honor for mvba to partner with a county that has such forward-thinking leadership.”

With over 55 years in the business of collecting governmental debts, mvba has proven to be a pioneer in the field. Its work has kept them at the forefront of digital collections technology.

“mvba, together with its clients, is on the cutting edge of ad valorem tax collection methods and practices to maximize local government revenues that provide critical services to taxpayers,” says Noé Reyes, a partner at the firm. “I envision that in 5, 10, or 20 years, tax sales will mostly take place online, perhaps exclusively. It’s the future. Burnet County and mvba are already there.”