Texas religious leaders live tax-free in their mansions


There, removing Texas taxes.

A Houston Chronicle investigation found that some religious leaders in Lone Star State lead lavish lifestyles in mansions that double as rectory – homes for the clergy – which like church buildings themselves. same, are exempt from property tax.

Journalists at the publication delved into public documents to find that 30 church-owned residences across the state were allowed free of tax despite being either on too large a property to qualify for. full exemption, or were used for purposes that prevented them from benefiting from the tax relief.

In one case, the Bonds Ranch Homeowners Association of Fort Worth, TX revealed to tax assessors that a 2,300 square foot rectory owned by Dido United Methodist Church had been in use as a lucrative rental for the past five years – a flagrant violation of tax laws. A subsequent investigation carried out by appraisers resulted in the re-registration of the house on the property tax rolls dating from 2018.

In another article, the newspaper reported that Denton County appraisers had granted 100% tax relief on the 2.5-acre rectory of the Denton Baptist Temple since at least 1992. A waiver request reveals the church noted that the size of the property exceeded the allowable limit, but it was approved anyway. The area’s chief appraiser has since informed the church that it will receive a tax bill for the portion of the property that is not exempt.

To top it off, the newspaper noted million-dollar homes, including a 10-bedroom, 10-and-a-half-bath mansion in the Houston area, an 8,000-square-foot residence in historic San Antonio and a Highland Park Estate in Dallas overlooking Corpus Christi Bay paid no property taxes because it was used to house the clergy.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

The newspaper also reported that there were more than 2,500 parsonages worth about $ 1 billion in the state’s most populous counties, costing local governments at least $ 16 million per year in property tax revenue.

[Houston Chronicle] – Vince DiMiceli

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