Investigation: Texas religious leaders live property tax free — in mansions

Houston Chronicle report says "parsonages" skirting tax laws

National Weekend Edition /
Dec.December 11, 2021 11:26 AM

(Getty)

There taking the taxes out of Texas.

A Houston Chronicle investigation revealed some religious leaders in the Lone Star State are living lavish lifestyles in mansions doubling as parsonage houses — homes for the clergy — that, like the church buildings themselves, are exempt from being billed for property taxes.

Reporters at the publication delved deep into public documents to find that 30 residences owned by churches across the state were allowed to skip paying taxes despite the fact they were either on too large a piece of property to qualify for the full exemption or were being used for purposes that disqualified them from receiving the tax break.

In one case, the Bonds Ranch Homeowners Association in Fort Worth, Texas revealed to tax appraisers that a 2,300 square-foot parsonage owned by the Dido United Methodist Church was being used as a money-making rental for the past five years — a clear violation of the tax laws. A subsequent investigation by appraisers resulted in the home being put back on the property tax rolls dating to 2018.

In another, the paper reported appraisers in Denton County gave a 100-percent tax break on the Denton Baptist Temple’s 2.5-acre parsonage since at least 1992. An application for the waiver reveals the church noted the property size was over the allowable limit, but it was approved anyway. The area’s chief appraiser has since notified the church that it will receive a tax bill for the portion of the property that is not exempt.

To top it all off, the paper noted million-dollar homes including a 10-bedroom, 10-and-a-half-bath Houston-area mansion, an 8,000-square-foot residence in a historic San Antonio area, and a Highland Park estate in Dallas paid zero in property taxes because they were being used to house the clergy.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

The paper 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 a year in property tax revenue.

[Houston Chronicle] — Vince DiMiceli





    Related Articles

    arrow_forward_ios
    From left: Sotheby’s Daniel de la Vega and Reagan Jefferies with Brevard County
    One Sotheby’s picks up Brevard County brokerage
    One Sotheby’s picks up Brevard County brokerage
    10181 US Highway 98 West and 39 Sandy Dunes Circle (LoopNet)
    Florida Panhandle estate sold for $25M
    Florida Panhandle estate sold for $25M
    Netscape co-founder Jim Clark and 2000 South Ocean Boulevard in Manalapan (Getty, Sotheby's)
    Manalapan compound poised to sell for Florida-record $175M
    Manalapan compound poised to sell for Florida-record $175M
    Hassan Whiteside and 528 Lakeview Court in Miami Beach (Getty, Joe Azar/Compass)
    NBA’s Hassan Whiteside lists Miami home for $23M, triple what he paid for it
    NBA’s Hassan Whiteside lists Miami home for $23M, triple what he paid for it
    (iStock)
    Some Florida property owners to get tax breaks following Surfside condo collapse
    Some Florida property owners to get tax breaks following Surfside condo collapse
    (ONE Sotheby's Realty)
    Former mayor George “Bud” Scholl’s waterfront home hits market for $13.9M
    Former mayor George “Bud” Scholl’s waterfront home hits market for $13.9M
    Home prices notched record-shattering growth in 2021, but slowdown is likely
    Home prices notched record-shattering growth in 2021, but slowdown is likely
    Home prices notched record-shattering growth in 2021, but slowdown is likely
    6315 11th Ave Gulfport (iStock, Heckler Realty Group, Illustration by Shea Monahan for the Real Deal)
    Tampa-area home billed as first in US to be sold as an NFT
    Tampa-area home billed as first in US to be sold as an NFT
    arrow_forward_ios

    The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

    Loading...