Legal interpretation in property tax debate could cost states millions

Published 8:29 am Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Special to The Leader

AUSTIN Texas communities depend heavily on local property taxes generated by retail businesses. But a debate being litigated across the nation could have major implications: should open, operating stores be taxed in the same way as closed ones?

The February issue of Fiscal Notes examines this legal question, so-called dark store theory, which could cost Texas localities substantial amounts of tax revenue. Bexar County, for instance, has said its schools could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in property tax revenue if dark store theory becomes accepted.

“Texas jurisdictions are facing an increasing number of protests and lawsuits based on dark store theory,” Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said. “We examine the complex arguments involved, and their real-world consequences for local taxpayers.”

In this issue, the Comptroller’s office also looks at Texas’ ports of entry — the seaports, airports and border crossings that facilitate the state’s trade with other nations. Hegar recently completed his Good for Texas: Ports Edition tour during which he discussed a Comptroller study that quantifies these ports’ economic contributions.