Monday, April 8, 2024

How a Right-Wing Texas Think Tank Ducked Property Taxes

Here is more from Texas Monthly:

The Texas Public Policy Foundation, a right-wing think tank with ties to the state’s most powerful politicians and political donors, has long lobbied legislators to abolish property taxes. So far, this effort has failed. But TPPF has succeeded in another ambitious goal: ducking its own property taxes.

For the past decade, Texas Monthly has learned, the think tank hasn’t paid a single dollar in taxes on its lavish, limestone-fronted, six-story headquarters, just two blocks from the Capitol in downtown Austin. The building’s appraised value is $18 million. How did TPPF manage this feat? 

Under state law, exemption from property taxes is reserved only for some nonprofit organizations, including orphan-aid groups and animal shelters. A well-funded think tank that promotes the interests of the oil-and-gas industry and undermines support for public schools, among other causes, would not seem to qualify. Indeed, TPPF was twice denied an exemption. But it persisted by appealing to the comptroller’s office, the statewide tax agency.


The article notes that TPPF, which has an annual budget of around $21.5 million and 150 staffers, has so far avoided paying around $3 million in taxes on its headquarters.

TPPF's former CEO, Brooke Rollins, now runs America First Policy Institute (AFPI).  Another former TPPF CEO, Kevin Roberts, now runs the Heritage Foundation.