A Brief History
Prior to 1979, each tax agency in Texas could have its own tax office if
it desired. Accordingly, Texas had over 3,000 separate tax offices, each following its own
standards and local practices. This resulted in untrained and unqualified personnel administering
local tax offices under procedures and policies that were often influenced by local politics.
Values were inaccurate and inequitable. Property owners were required to visit multiple tax
offices in order to resolve any dispute that may have existed for a single property.
In 1979 the Texas Legislature, reacting to a chronic and growing problem of
inequitable and unfair taxation, passed new legislation in Senate Bill 621 requiring that
a centralized agency be established in each county for the purpose of appraising property
for ad valorem tax purposes. These agencies, called “Central Appraisal Districts”, were
organized to ensure that property taxation was fair and equitable as well as accurate.
By law, a central appraisal district is to be managed by a professional staff having
training and education prescribed by the State of Texas. Also a Tax Code was written
that prescribed appraisal standards and appeal procedures and ensured regular review of
each appraisal district by a state agency.
Today the Dallas Central Appraisal District (DCAD) appraises property in all of
Dallas County. We cover an area of approximately 900 square miles and are responsible
for almost 815,000 tax accounts.
Our agency is organized very similarly to a corporation. We have a Board
of Directors that represents the 61 governments of Dallas County. The Board appoints
an Executive Director/Chief Appraiser who is responsible for the daily operation of the
district. Staffing of the district varies according to the workload, but is approximately
Each year our agency has a financial audit performed by independent auditors. In addition,
the Comptroller of Public Accounts’ Property Tax Assistance Division conducts either a
Property Value Study (PVS) to assess the uniformity and level of appraisal or a Methods
and Assistance Program (MAP) review to verify compliance with mandated operating procedures.
In 2003 the DCAD installed MARS (Mass Appraisal Record System). This new system allows our
appraisers to download data from our file servers into pen-based tablets that they take into
the field. While on a property site, our appraisers can review data concerning the property
as well as measure, inspect, and value the property. Our appraisers have access to much
information from our computer files, including digital color photographs of each improved
property, Geographic Information System (GIS) information, such as flood plains, city limits,
school district and other political boundaries, etc. All of this information is used to help
the appraiser make as fair and equitable appraisal of your property as possible.
In 2012 Dallas CAD was the recipient of three outstanding awards for accomplishments in various operations.
In July 2012 Dallas CAD was awarded a Special Achievement Award from ERSI for its work in the Geographical
Information Systems (GIS) area for implementing a solution in property tax assessment whereby the parcel fabric is an
editable environment for property boundary information. In September 2012 the District was the recipient of
the Distinguished Assessment Jurisdiction Award from the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO)
for its successful implementation of three programs: the general homestead application online filing system; a mobile
website that allows the public to easily access information via smart-phones; and an electronic notification system
which allows property owners the choice of receiving communications electronically from the District. This is the
third time the Dallas CAD has won this award. In October 2012 Dallas CAD received the
Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) for its
preparation of budget documents of the very highest quality that reflect both the guidelines established by the
National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting and the GFOA’s best practices on budgeting. This award is
the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.
Over thirty years have passed since the DCAD was first organized by the State. Our agency has matured into one of the most
advanced, cost efficient and accurate appraisal districts in the State of Texas.