Coalition Says Dallas Schools, Governments Suffer Because Commercial Properties Don't Pay ‘fair Share' of Taxes

A coalition of activists, labor groups and politicians said Monday that commercial property owners aren't paying their fair share of taxes because they win large reductions when protest their property appraisal values.Communities United for a Greater Dallas said in a report that the Dallas Central Appraisal District's reductions have deprived the county's local governments entities of more than $1 billion in revenue over the last five years.The report's release Monday — which the appraisal district played down — came as federal tax returns were due, state legislators debated revenue caps and property appraisals go out in the mail. At a news conference, the coalition's leaders called for greater transparency in the appraisal and protest process."It seems it has become very easy for commercial property owners, especially those that own Dallas County's most valuable properties, to win deep reductions in their property values by filing protests with the Appraisal Review Board," said Rena Honea, the president of Dallas' Alliance-AFT, a teacher's labor union.The group — comprised of members from the Texas Organizing Project, Dallas AFL-CIO, Faith in Texas and other organizations — called for the review board to disclose the list of people who serve on its panels. The group's leaders said the appraisal district should also document any potential conflicts of interest — "especially conflicts that might give an unfair advantage to large commercial property owners," the report stated.Ken Nolan, the chief appraiser for the Dallas Central Appraisal District, said he didn't know how the coalition came up with the $1 billion figure. He said the idea that commercial property owners don't pay enough is a "common theme" throughout the state. But Nolan rejected the group's suggestion that the Appraisal Review Board might favor commercial property owners and therefore give them significant tax reductions."There's a whole lot of commercial property owners who would tell you for sure it's not true," Nolan said.Nolan said homeowners were the big beneficiaries of the protest process; they made up about 90,000 of the 138,000 property value protests the county got last year.But the coalition reported that commercial owners are responsible for 83 percent of the reductions' value. Nolan said that makes sense because the commercial properties tend to be more valuable.The group's report said 50 companies accounted for $170 million in tax losses from protests between 2016 to 2018, which they said was about a quarter of the total revenue loss during that time.  Continue reading...

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