6 Investigates Follows Up: Tax case headed to Supreme Court - KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi

6 Investigates Follows Up: Tax case headed to Supreme Court

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Valero tax lawsuit headed to state's highest court. Valero tax lawsuit headed to state's highest court.

6 Investigates has been reporting that big businesses have made a business model of using something called the "Equal and Uniform" taxation laws in Texas to get huge discounts on their tax bills.

Now, the Texas Supreme Court is set to hear one of those cases.

It's Valero v. Galveston County, where the refining giant sued over a half-billion-dollar valuation on it's refining operation there.

But Tom Wheat, a Corpus Christi lawyer who does work for the Nueces County Appraisal District, says if the court sides with Valero, it means businesses can go to every appraisal district in Texas.

"'That 'Equal and Uniform' is solid and cannot be overturned, and we're going to use it every time and every year until we get these values down where we want them," he said

Wheat tells us he doesn't blame big businesses for using the law to their advantage.

However, the practice is slowly eroding the tax base that our school and local governments depend upon to operate.

And the practice is spreading: Nueces County Chief Appraiser Ronnie Canales says retailers are now getting into the act, telling us that retail-giant, Target, recently sued for a tax break on their property here in Corpus Christi.

Wheat says it is lawmakers who must take another look at the law and, they must stop tailoring our tax laws to suit special interests.

"More and more people are talking to their legislators...getting laws passed to exempt their little niche that they're in," he told KRIS 6 News.

A previous report featured the fact that more than $1.6 billion in property values have been slashed from tax rolls in larger cities like Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.  And, Wheat says, every dollar big business opts out of under the "Equal and Uniform," is a dollar that local governments will have to get somewhere else.

In other words, homeowners and small businesses, who cannot afford to fight their tax valuations in court.

The case is set for a November 9 hearing in Austin.

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