Enough with the salt.

Regardless of your definition, the world got worse in many ways this past year. While many large problems seem out of our control to fix or influence, there are several things we can all do to make me feel better. Yes, me. In this season of giving, what have you done for me?  If you’re still looking for my belated present, there are still a few items from my gift registry that weren’t in my stocking this year.

Stop Pouring Salt In My Wound

I can’t be the only person who likes caramel – that magical concoction of sugar and milk. Making caramel from scratch is less simple than you’d imagine but with a reward unimaginably tasty. So why has the world gone mad tossing salt into the mix? Stop it. Caramel doesn’t need the help.

I get the whole salty/sweet thing, but not in caramel. Feel free to dip pretzels, chips, or blocks of salt in chocolate, but leave caramel the hell alone.

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lowes

The next time you walk into Lowe’s and they ask if they can help you, you might say, “Yeah, pay your fair share.”

Big-box retailers are trying a new-fangled strategy to lower their property taxes, and in some states, it is working.

It’s called the “dark-store” strategy, borrowing a commercial real estate term that means a vacated building that has “gone dark”. This strategy has been used successfully used by some stores to cut local property taxes in Michigan and other states.

Now, it is being tested in at least four Texas counties. That’s where Lowe’s home improvement stores are challenging tax bills. Their arguments are that the property should be valued as if the buildings sat empty.

But they are not: the stores in Bexar, Harris, Hunt, and Taylor counties, are wide open.

Confusing? It’s a way to bully the tax authorities with the store’s sheer size. Hey, they argue: this building is big (and cheap) and it would be really hard to fill if we left. So if you want us to stay and pay something, then lower our taxes.

We haven’t seen this in North Texas thus far, but you know how good news travels fast in the business world.

If these stores are granted huge tax deductions, guess who would be forced to cough up the difference?

Homeowners.

“I do think that this is something that needs to be watched,” says our Tax Doctor Rob Wheelock.

Property taxes are going to be a big topic in Texas 2017.

“Next year the Texas lawmakers, lead by State Senator Paul Bettencourt, will be taking up property tax reform in hopes of closing some of the current loop holes,” says Rob. “I can’t blame any property owner, residential or commercial,  for keeping a watchful eye on their values and protesting if they believe that the valuations is too high.”

Especially if giants like Lowe’s and Home Depot start ditching their fair share. (more…)