Over the past decade, Walgreens has engaged in a high-stakes game of dominoes across Texas to get its property taxes lowered for dozens of stores.
Using a 15-year-old law — and the state civil court system — the national retailer has successfully obtained reductions in several of Texas’ largest counties, including Bexar, Dallas, Collin and Harris.
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What we reported
The Statesman revealed in September that the taxable value of many commercial properties is set far below what they are actually worth, in part because Texas law doesn’t make owners disclose sales prices. As a result, homeowners may pay higher taxes. Find a link to the September report with this story on mystatesman.com.
TODAY IN THE STATESMAN, Monday on KVUE
This story is reported in partnership with KVUE-TV. See Tony Plohetski’s video report on this topic Monday on KVUE News Nightbeat at 10 p.m.
This story reflects the American-Statesman’s consistent focus on how government decisions affect Central Texans through such factors as tax fairness, housing affordability and funding of public services. Find more at mystatesman.com/s/investigations.
Lawsuits over appraised value are one of the tools that business property owners in Texas use to cut their tax costs. More frequently, those owners reduce their tax bills through the appraisal appeals process.
All of that shifts the tax burden to Texas homeowners, who pay billions more of the cost of public schools, roads, police and other public services.
According to the state comptroller’s office, in year 2000 single-family homeowners paid the biggest share of real property taxes that support the public schools — 45 percent — while commercial and industrial property owners paid 21 percent. (Other sectors, from oil and gas to personal property, make up the rest.) By 2012, commercial and industrial owners were paying less than 20 percent, but homeowners were paying 54 percent.