TITLE 43. TRANSPORTATION

PART 16. WILLIAMSON COUNTY TAX ASSESSOR-COLLECTOR

CHAPTER 435. MOTOR VEHICLE TITLE SERVICES

43 TAC §§435.1 - 435.16

The Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector proposes new 43 TAC §§435.1 - 435.16, concerning the regulation of motor vehicle title services. The Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector, Larry Gaddes, has linked these services to document fraud and vehicle theft. Texas Transportation Code, Chapter 520, Subchapter E regulates motor vehicle title services in counties with a population of more than 500,000. Subchapter E requires motor vehicle title services in these counties to be registered, licensed, and required to maintain records for inspection.

Mr. Gaddes has considered the impact of the proposed section on government growth during the first five years that the rule would be in effect, and has determined that: (1) it creates a government program; (2) implementation will not require the creation or elimination of employee positions; (3) implementation will not require an increase or decrease in any future appropriations from the Texas legislature; (4) it requires an increase in payment of fees to the Tax Assessor-Collector which will offset the costs of regulating motor vehicle title services to reduce vehicle theft and related document fraud; (5) the proposed section creates a new regulation in accordance with Chapter 520, Subchapter E of the Texas Transportation Code; (6) it does not expand, limit or repeal an existing regulation; (7) as a new regulation, it increases the number of individuals subject to its applicability; and (8) it does not affect this state's economy.

Mr. Gaddes has determined that for the first five-year period these sections are in effect, there will be no fiscal impact for state or local government. The amount of the fee directly relates to the amount necessary for the department to recover the cost of its operation. The county will keep all revenues from licensing fees to offset spending.

Mr. Gaddes also has determined that for each year of the first five years the rules are in effect, the public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcement of the rules will be to reduce vehicle theft and related document fraud.

Mr. Gaddes has received motor vehicle title services records from approximately 7 to 8 distinct entities per year since 2017. Nearly all of these entities are small businesses, many of which are micro-businesses. The economic costs for persons who are required to comply with these sections will be the license fee, which is due upon application and is not refundable along with an annual license renewal fee. Small businesses that comply with the sections may experience increased business opportunities because noncompliant competitors will be sanctioned. Mr. Gaddes does not believe that the proposed section will have an adverse economic effect on rural communities.

In preparing the proposed sections, Mr. Gaddes has considered processes which require less information from applicants, informal tracking of records, and random document confirmation. However, study and experience lead to the conclusion that public welfare and safety would benefit from clear, consistent, and published standards. Mr. Gaddes also has considered assessing lower and higher license fees but concluded the fees as set are appropriate for Williamson County. Required research, background checks and review prior to issuance of a title service and runner license require time on the part of the tax office and associated county offices to conduct background checks. Additionally, title services are monitored throughout the year and upon renewal are put through a review process similar to the original application process.

Comments on the proposed new sections may be submitted to Matt Johnson, Williamson County Chief Deputy, Williamson County Tax Office, 904 S. Main St. Georgetown, Texas 78626. The deadline for all comments is 30 days after publication in the Texas Register.

Statutory Authority. The Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector proposes the new sections pursuant to Transportation Code, Chapter 520, Subchapter E, which provides the county tax assessor-collector the authority to adopt rules regarding motor vehicle title services.

This proposal does not affect any other statutes, articles or codes.

§435.1.Definitions.

(a) "Application." Except where otherwise expressly stated, the term "Application" includes all documentation submitted with a Motor Vehicle Title Service Application Form or Motor Vehicle Title Service Runner Application Form.

(b) "Motor vehicle" has the meaning assigned by Texas Transportation Code §501.002.

(c) "Motor vehicle title service" or "MVTS" means any person or entity that for compensation directly or indirectly assists other persons in obtaining title documents, in either written or electronic form, by submitting, transmitting, or sending applications for title documents to the appropriate government agencies.

(d) "Title documents" means motor vehicle title applications, motor vehicle registration renewal applications, motor vehicle mechanic's lien title applications, motor vehicle storage lien title applications, motor vehicle temporary registration permits, motor vehicle title application transfers occasioned by the death of the title holder, motor vehicle inquiries, license plate and/or sticker replacement or any other motor vehicle related transaction.

(e) "Title service runner," "Runner" or "MVTSR" means any person employed by a licensed motor vehicle title service to submit or present title documents to the county tax assessor-collector on behalf of that licensed motor vehicle title service.

§435.2.License Required.

(a) License No./Effective Date. Each license granted will be assigned a number. The effective date of issuance is the date upon which notice is sent under §435.8(c) of this chapter (relating to Application Review/Applicant Background Check/Applicant Interview).

(b) Original. Each licensee shall be issued one original license.

(c) A title service shall process all work at the Williamson County Main St. office for the first ninety days of the license period, after which the title service may process work at any Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector location. A title service whose license is renewed under §435.12(a) - (d) of this chapter (relating to License Renewal) may, upon the commencement of the renewal period, process work at any Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector location.

§435.3.Eligible Applicants.

A person may not apply for a Motor Vehicle Title Service License or Motor Vehicle Title Service Runner License unless the person is:

(1) at least 18 years of age on the date the application is submitted; and

(2) authorized to handle financial transactions whether representing himself/herself or another.

§435.4.Criminal Background Check.

Each Applicant for a license must submit to a criminal background check.

§435.5.Submission of Application.

Each Applicant must submit his/her completed application form, including all required documentation, in person to the Tax Assessor-Collector or the Tax Assessor-Collector's designated representative. The Tax Assessor-Collector or the Tax Assessor-Collector's designated representative will accept the completed Application provided Applicant:

(1) presents a valid Texas driver's license and a valid Social Security Card or, if applicable, a U.S.-issued alien identification card issued by the Department of Homeland Security, and permits the Tax Assessor-Collector or Tax Assessor-Collector's designated representative to make a copy of both; and

(2) pays the Application fee.

§435.6.Completion of Motor Vehicle Title Service Application.

(a) A Motor Vehicle Title Service ("MVTS") License Application will not be considered complete under §435.5 of this chapter (relating to Submission of Application) unless all applicable information identified on the Title Service License Application form ("TSLA Form") has been provided, all required documentation has been attached, and the Applicant identified on the TSLA Form has executed the Applicant Affidavit section of the Form as described in subsection (d) of this section. If Applicant Business is a partnership, each partner must submit a separate application. If Applicant Business is a corporation, each officer and director must submit a separate application and identify the state of incorporation on that application.

(b) The following documents must be submitted with and attached to the signed and completed TSLA Form:

(1) a copy of Applicant's valid Texas driver's license and valid Social Security Card, or if applicable, a U.S.-issued alien identification card by the Department of Homeland Security;

(2) an original or certified copy of:

(A) if Applicant Business is a DBA, each applicable Assumed Name Certificate;

(B) if Applicant Business is a corporation, the applicable Articles of Incorporation; or

(C) if Applicant Business is a partnership, the applicable Partnership Agreement; and

(3) all forms required by the Denton County Tax Assessor-Collector, signed and completed as required by the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector.

(c) Each Applicant shall provide all information indicated on the TSLA Form, which information shall include but is not limited to:

(1) Applicant name, address, telephone number, social security number, date of birth, Texas Driver's license number, citizenship status, and what position the Applicant holds in the Applicant Business (i.e., owner, principal, director, officer, partner);

(2) Applicant Business name, physical address, mailing address, and telephone number(s);

(3) identification of Applicant Business type (i.e., DBA, Corporation or Partnership);

(4) name under which Service will conduct business (if different than Applicant Business name);

(5) the physical address(es) (including any applicable suite number(s)) of each location/office from which the Service will conduct business (a P.O. Box will not be accepted) and a corresponding photo, with address numbers clearly visible, of each location/building where business is to be conducted;

(6) the name(s), as applicable, of:

(A) each individual with any ownership interest in the Applicant Business; and

(B) each principal, officer or director of Applicant Business;

(7) whether the Applicant or Applicant Business has previously applied for an MVTS license (or permit), the result of the previous application, and whether the Applicant or Applicant Business has ever held an MVTS license (or permit) that was revoked or suspended;

(8) Applicant Business federal tax identification number; and

(9) Applicant Business state sales tax number.

(d) Each Applicant shall execute the Applicant Affidavit Section of the Form, attesting to the following:

(1) that information provided in and with the application is true and accurate; and

(2) that Applicant freely grants the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector and local law enforcement agencies permission to conduct a criminal background investigation on Applicant and/or Applicant's business.

§435.7.Completion of Title Service License Runner Application.

(a) A Motor Vehicle Title Service Runner License Application will not be considered complete under §435.5 of this chapter (relating to Submission of Application) unless all applicable information identified on the Title Service Runner License Application form ("TSRA Form") has been provided, all required documentation has been attached, and the Applicant identified on the TSRA Form has executed the Applicant Affidavit section of the Form as described in subsection (c) of this section. The following documents must be submitted with and attached to the signed and completed TSRA Form:

(1) a copy of Applicant's valid Texas driver's license and valid Social Security Card, or if applicable, a U.S.-issued alien identification card by the Department of Homeland Security;

(2) all forms required by the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector, signed and completed as required by the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector; and

(3) sworn affidavits of each owner, partner, officer or director of the Licensed Title Service identified on the TSRA form, stating that the Licensed Title Service (which must be identified specifically in the statement by name and License No.) employs Applicant and authorizes him/her to submit or present title documents to the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector on its behalf.

(b) Applicants shall provide all information indicated on the TSRA Form, which information shall include but is not limited to:

(1) the name of the licensed motor vehicle title service for which the Applicant seeks a license to submit or present title documents, the MVTS License Number, and date of issue;

(2) the name, office address and office phone of the title service owner, officer or employee who will supervise Applicant;

(3) Applicant name, address, telephone number, social security number, date of birth, Texas Driver's license number, and citizenship status;

(4) whether the Applicant has previously applied for a MVTS or MVTSR license (or permit), the result of the previous application(s), and whether the Applicant or Applicant Business has ever held an MVTS or MVTS Runner license (or permit) that was revoked or suspended; and

(5) a sworn affidavit stating that the Applicant is employed by the motor vehicle title service identified on the Application and authorized by that motor vehicle title service to submit or present title documents to the county tax assessor-collector.

(c) Each Applicant shall execute the Applicant Affidavit Section of the Form, attesting to the following:

(1) that information provided in and with the application is true and accurate;

(2) that Applicant is employed by the Title Service identified in Section 1 of the Application to submit or present title documents to the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector under Chapter 520 of the Texas Transportation Code; and

(3) that Applicant freely grants the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector and local law enforcement agencies permission to conduct a criminal background investigation on Applicant and/or Applicant's business.

§435.8.Application Review/Applicant Background Check/Applicant Interview.

(a) After acceptance of a completed application, Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector will conduct an initial review of the Application. If information known to or obtained by the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector conflicts or appears to conflict with information supplied in the Application, Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector may ask the Applicant to provide additional clarifying or verifying information.

(b) Following initial application review under subsection (a) of this section, Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector will conduct the Applicant Background check. Upon completion of this process, interviews for eligible Applicants may be scheduled according to Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector office needs/staff availability. Applicants are responsible for reserving open interview slots, which will be assigned by Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector on a first-come, first-served basis. No license may issue unless each person required to apply for the requested license has completed the interview process if requested by the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector. During the interview process, Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector may question Applicant and request additional documentation for the purpose of establishing Applicant's business reputation and character.

(c) Applicants will be notified of the outcome of an application within 30 days of receiving the application or the date the interview process is completed should one be required. Such notice will be sent by certified mail:

(1) to Runner License Applicants at the home address listed on the Application; and

(2) to Title Service License Applicants at the business mailing address listed on the Application.

§435.9.License.

(a) License No./Effective Date. Each license granted will be assigned a number. The effective date of issuance is the date upon which notice is sent under §435.8(c) of this chapter (relating to Application Review/Applicant Background Check/Applicant Interview).

(b) Original. Each licensee shall be issued one original license.

(c) A title service and/or runner shall process all work at the Georgetown Main office for the first ninety days of the license period, after which the title service may process work at any WILLIAMSON COUNTY TAX ASSESSOR/COLLECTOR location. A title service whose license is renewed under §435.12.(a) - (d) of this chapter (relating to License Renewal) may, upon the commencement of the renewal period, process work at any WILLIAMSON COUNTY TAX ASSESSOR/COLLECTOR location.

§435.10.Records and Reporting.

(a) MVTS.

(1) Each licensed MVTS must inform Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector of a change to its primary physical and/or mailing address by submitting a written address change request form to the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector. Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector shall update the address information upon receipt of such request.

(2) A licensed MVTS shall report a change to its principals, partners, owners, officers, or directors as provided in §435.14(b)(1) of this chapter (relating to Suspension).

(3) Each licensed MVTS must keep on file at its principal place of business:

(A) the original MVTS license and Application (including all submitted documentation); and

(B) a copy of each license issued to a Runner for that MVTS, and of the Application (including all submitted documentation) submitted by each such licensed runner.

(b) Runner.

(1) In order to submit or present documents on behalf of an MVTS, a valid runner license must be presented. A licensed runner may submit or present title documents to the county tax assessor-collector only on behalf of the licensed motor vehicle title service for which he/she is a licensed runner.

(2) Each licensed Runner must inform Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector if his/her home address has changed by submitting a written home address change request to Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector. Upon receipt of such request, Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector will update the Runner's home address information.

§435.11.License Fees.

(a) All License fees must be paid by business check on account in the applying (Title Service License) or employing (Title Service Runner License) Title Service's name, unless the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector in its sole discretion agrees to accept other forms of payment. Other forms of payment will not be considered accepted except as authorized in writing by the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector.

(b) The fee for a motor vehicle title service license shall be $300 for the initial application and $300 for each annual renewal.

(c) The fee for a title service runner license shall be $100 for the initial application and $100 for each annual renewal.

(d) The fee for replacement of a license issued under §435.9(b) of this chapter (relating to License), lost title service license, or title runner license shall be $20.

§435.12.License Renewal.

(a) A license issued under these rules expires on the first anniversary of the date of issuance and may be renewed annually on or before the expiration date on payment of the required renewal fee.

(b) A person who is otherwise eligible to renew a license may renew an unexpired license by paying to the county tax assessor-collector before the expiration date of the license the required renewal fee. A person whose license has expired may not engage in activities that require a license until the license has been renewed.

(c) If a license has been expired for 90 days or less, the person/entity (as applicable), may renew the license by paying to the county tax assessor-collector 1-1/2 times the required renewal fee.

(d) If a license has been expired for longer than 90 days but less than one year, the person/entity (as applicable), may renew the license by paying to the county tax assessor-collector two times the required renewal fee.

(e) If a license has been expired for one year or longer, the person/entity (as applicable) may not renew the license. The person/entity may obtain a new license by complying with the requirements and procedures for obtaining an original license.

(f) Notwithstanding subsection (e) of this section, if a person/entity (as applicable) was licensed in this state, moved to another state, and has been doing business in the other state for the two years preceding application, the person/entity may renew an expired license. The person must pay to the county tax assessor-collector a fee that is equal to two times the required renewal fee for the license.

(g) Before the 30th day preceding the date on which a license expires, the county tax assessor-collector shall notify the license holder of the impending expiration. The notice must be in writing and sent to the license holder's last known address according to the records of the county tax assessor-collector.

§435.13.Denial or Revocation of License.

(a) Grounds for the denial (after completed Application submission) or revocation of a license include, but are not limited to:

(1) past or present submission by licensee or any applicant for the license, of a license application or related document to the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector that contains false information or that by its submission constitutes a misrepresentation of fact;

(2) the licensee or any applicant for the license has been convicted of any felony, any crime of moral turpitude, or deceptive business practice for which the sentence completion date is fewer than five years from the application date;

(3) licensee or any applicant for the license has been criminally or civilly sanctioned for the unauthorized practice of law by any government or quasi-government body with jurisdiction to do so;

(4) One or more than one of the affiants described in §435.7(a)(3) of this chapter (relating to Completion of Title Service Runner License Application) has withdrawn his/her affidavit or otherwise informed Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector that Applicant is not employed and authorized to submit title documents on behalf of the title service identified in the application;

(5) disruptive or aggressive behavior by a licensee or any applicant for the license at any Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector location that in the opinion of the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector creates a security concern;

(6) any dishonest, fraudulent, or criminal activity by a licensee or any applicant for the license; and/or

(7) failure to pay fines and/or fees identified in a suspension notice under §435.14(a) of this chapter (relating to Suspension) within 30 days of the suspension's effective date.

(b) Upon its determination that a license should be denied or revoked, Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector shall send notice of denial/revocation to the applicant(s)/licensee by certified mail. Notice of any license denial shall be sent to each applicant at the home address listed on his/her application form. Notice of a Runner license revocation shall be sent to the most recent home address on file. Notice of a Title Service License revocation shall be sent to the attention of "all" MVTS partners, owners, officers, directors, or principals (as applicable) at the most recent primary physical business address on file for licensee. The notice shall identify the grounds that warrant the determination.

(c) Revocation - effective date. Revocation shall be effective upon the date notice described in subsection (b) of this section is sent.

(d) A licensee whose license is denied or revoked may not apply for any license before the first anniversary of the date of the revocation. No applicant for a license that has been denied or revoked may apply for any license before the first anniversary of the date of revocation.

§435.15.Appeals.

(a) An applicant/licensee may appeal the denial/revocation of a license by filing a written appeal request with the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector within 30 days of the date notice is sent under §435.13(b) of this chapter (relating to Denial or Revocation of License). Any information/documentation in support of such appeal must be submitted with the appeal request.

(b) The Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector shall appoint a Review Board consisting of five members. At least one member of the Review Board shall be a law enforcement officer. The Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector may appoint one or more Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector employees to serve on the Board. Provided at least one law enforcement officer is in attendance, appeals shall be reviewed at a meeting of at least three members of the Board. Such meetings shall be held periodically as determined by the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector.

(c) Timely filed appeals will be scheduled for review at the next Review Board meeting, which meeting shall take place no less than sixty (60) days following the filing of the appeal. An applicant/licensee whose appeal is under review may attend the meeting and, at the Board's discretion, provide testimony in support of the appeal. The Board also has discretion to consider documentation not timely provided under subsection (a) of this section.

(d) Recommendation. The law enforcement officer in attendance shall preside over the meeting and determine when each appeal has been sufficiently considered, discussed and reviewed by the members in attendance. Following such determination, each member in attendance shall state and briefly describe the reasons for his/her opinion as to whether the action appealed should be sustained. Thereafter, the presiding law enforcement officer shall independently make a written recommendation to the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector. The written recommendation shall be signed by the presiding officer and shall identify which, if any, of the other members in attendance did not agree with it.

(e) Within (15) days of receiving the presiding officer's written recommendation, the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector shall make a final determination on the appeal. The Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector shall consider the presiding officer's recommendation before making the final determination.

(f) The Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector shall send notice of its final determination to the applicant(s)/licensee by certified mail as follows:

(1) License denial - to each applicant at the home address listed on his/her application form.

(2) Runner License revocation - to the most recent home address on file.

(3) Title Service License revocation - to the attention of all partners, owners, officers, directors, or principals (as applicable) at the most recent primary physical business address on file.

§435.16.Amendment of Rules.

The County Tax Assessor-Collector may amend these rules in his/her sole discretion and as deemed necessary at any time.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the proposal and found it to be within the state agency's legal authority to adopt.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on January 10, 2020.

TRD-202000085

Larry Gaddes

Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector

Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector

Earliest possible date of adoption: February 23, 2020

For further information, please call: (512) 943-1641