Public Finance

  • News

    May 1, 2014

    Texas Is Losing Out on Millions of Dollars Thanks to Its Defective Property-Tax System

    Across the state, private companies are able to slash their property-tax assessments, but homeowners aren’t as lucky with their county appraisal districts.

  • Blogs

    April 30, 2014

    Cover Story: Private Companies Score Huge Property-Tax Breaks, Homeowners Don't

    The old AstroWorld site, the Dallas Country Club, Valero refineries in the San Antonio and Port Arthur areas, and Western Refinery out in El Paso are a handful of high-end properties that have ditched millions of dollars in property taxes to the detriment of school districts, firefighters and emerge ... More >>

  • Blogs

    November 13, 2013

    Property Tax Season: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

    Ah, it's that time of year again. There's a crisp chill in the air. The sound of Christmas music is gently echoing throughout malls around the city. There are smiles on all the children's faces as they wait with great anticipation for that one special man to bring them something...Tax Assessor-Colle ... More >>

  • News

    October 17, 2013

    Health on Hold

    Government shutdown gets personal for one Houston kid.

  • Blogs

    October 17, 2013

    The Keystone Pipeline, Another Victim of the Shutdown

    It looks like the federal government will be back up and running soon, but the damage may already be done where the Keystone XL Pipeline is concerned. That's good news, bad news or that which doesn't much matter if you're against the pipeline, for it or politely indifferent, respectively. The Keyst ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 3, 2013

    Federal Government Shutdown And College Sports: The Best Press Release Ever

    As we drink our morning coffee and watch President Obama talk about how avoidable the federal government shutdown is and hear Republicans counter with their arguments, it's important to note that there have actually been several government shutdowns over the last few decades. So while this is more ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 1, 2013

    HISD Board Looking at a Higher Tax Rate

    The Houston Independent School District may be about to get a little more in the tax dollars department. Next week the HISD school board will consider a 4 cent property tax rate increase, bumping it up to $1.1967 per $100 taxable value. If the move is approved by the HISD school board this will be ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 15, 2013

    Gladys House, Fourth Ward activist, pays her tax bill (swears revenge)

    Last week, Gladys House had every reason to think she was about to see her property auctioned off for failure to pay her taxes, before someone swooped in to loan her the money. "I always felt like it was going to be all right. I just didn't know how it would happen," House said. Linebarger Gogga ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 10, 2013

    Yevette Walton & Lakisha Rogers: They Interview Tax Preparers Until They Find One Willing to File 53 Fake Returns

    We don't know who first came up with the phrase "you can't get good help nowadays," but whoever did likely realized the importance of having a staffer interview someone before hiring. It's a valuable personnel lesson ingrained in Yevette Lauren Walton and Lakisha Lashell Rogers, but for all their p ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 6, 2013

    Fourth Ward Activist's Property to Be Auctioned Off Tuesday

    Death and taxes are the only certainties in life, but in the case of Gladys House, the actual tax bill has been a question she's been wrestling with since the late 1990s. House is a longtime Fourth Ward activist and head of the Freedmen's Town Association who has fought for years to preserve the ... More >>

  • News

    April 18, 2013

    Shakedown: The HCAD Appraisal Game

    HCAD fights owners of moderate housing for every single assessment penny. So why is it routinely handing out tax breaks worth several millions to big corporations?

  • Blogs

    April 17, 2013

    Cover Story: HCAD Allegedly Running an "Enron Style" Scheme by Shifting the Property Tax Burden from the Rich to the Poor

    In 2012, the Harris County Appraisal District valued Robert Mandala's modest Spring home at $59,500. The property-tax agent who represented Mandala said HCAD, while establishing a value, purposely ignored the lower priced homes in the neighborhood and grabbed sales numbers from the most expensive pr ... More >>

  • Blogs

    December 20, 2012

    Vouchers on the Front Burner: New Texas Senate Education Committee Chair Talks "School Choice"

    New Chair Dan Patrick is making his mark on the Senate Education Committee early, putting his goals for school choice front and center on his agenda. The clamor over school choice will likely drown out many of Patrick's other goals for the session: expanding career and technology courses; dropping ... More >>

  • News

    October 11, 2012

    The Ten Most Corrupt Tax Loopholes

    If Mitt Romney won't tell you which need to be closed, we will.

  • Blogs

    July 16, 2012

    5 Tips for Musicians to Avoid IRS Trouble

    It's a fact of life that bears repeating: The IRS does not fuck around, no matter who you are. Legendary musician Chuck Berry received a reminder of this universal truth the hard way 33 years ago this month. Only three days after playing a gig on the White House lawn for President Jimmy Carter, the ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 23, 2012

    HISD Takes Another Run at Standardizing School-Day Start and End Times

    Could be required reading in all of HISD next year.​Superintendent Terry Grier is making another run at cutting Houston ISD expenses by standardizing school schedules throughout the district, after last year's narrow rejection of the measure by board trustees. His administration says that by ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 6, 2011

    HISD: Searches For Ways To Stanch Bleeding Budget, Mentions Taxes

    Photo by Mandy OaklanderPaula Harris helmed an emergency HISD meeting this morning.​This morning, an emergency meeting was called by HISD officials who are growing more desperate as severe budget cuts looms closer. About 10 parents sat in Pin Oak Middle School's cafeteria and listened to board ... More >>

  • Blogs

    December 13, 2010

    Ron Paul: This Is Your Moment, The New York Times Says

    Ron Paul's time to shine​The New York Times has officially announced it is time to stop laughing at Ron Paul, the Sage of Brazoria County, and pay attention to his vindication. The paper writes that Paul's detractors must eat crow now that the Tea Party and Libertarians have raised him up as ... More >>

  • Blogs

    December 3, 2010

    Tea Party Congressmen From Texas Love Their Earmarks

    Damn those earmarks!! Except mine​Brave, insightful, brilliant, not-at-all-crazy U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann founded the Congressional Tea Party Caucus to save America from Muslim presidents and stop federal spending by stopping earmarks, the modern term for pork-barrel projects. Republicans i ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 18, 2010

    Mario Gallegos Continues His Anti-Terry Grier Letter Writing Campaign

    Gallegos is writing, but he's not hearing back from Grier​State Senator Mario Gallegos has continued to dictate letters since calling for Houston ISD superintendent Terry Grier to leave in an earlier letter, saying Grier was going to ruin the lives of students here.In his latest set of letters -- ... More >>

  • News

    May 13, 2010

    Blowing Smoke

    Could Valero empty the coffers of Texas schools?

  • Blogs

    April 28, 2010

    Frank Wilson Survival Watch, Day 3: Spanish Bombs

    ​How long will the embattled Metro president last? Hair Balls presents today's installment of the Frank Wilson Survival Watch. 1. The Federal Transit Administration sends Frank Wilson a damning letter. Dorval Carter, the FTA's chief counsel, alerted Wilson at the end of last week that the feds are ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 25, 2010

    HISD Employs Shazam-You're-a-Magnet Strategy In Effort To Save Schools

    Photo by Margaret Downing​Under a proposal unveiled today by Superintendent Terry Grier and his staff, Jones High School, for years now one of the most academically troubled schools in the Houston school district, will be turned into a science, technology, engineering and math magnet with a specia ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 16, 2010

    Fort Bend ISD Pulls Back From The Brink (A Little) With Its Expensive New Science Center

    Illustration courtesy FBISD​We've noted before the Fort Bend school district's plans to build a very expensive but not overly needed "Science Center" that will take the place of all those labs in individual schools.The price tag is around $24 million, the plans are by an architectural firm that sp ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 11, 2009

    The City Of Houston Takes On Orbitz And Priceline

    The City of Houston and the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority are currently suing multiple travel websites such as Orbitz and Priceline over tax revenues it claims the sites owe it. Online travel sites pay wholesale prices to hotels for rooms and then customers book those rooms at a mark-up fro ... More >>

  • Blogs

    September 10, 2008

    Finally, Someone Who Wasn't Bitching About The High Price Of Gas

    Gas costs a hell of a lot these days. The working man just can't get a break. Why, you can earn only $802 in a year even as you spend more than $88,000 on gas. Well, you can if the guy preparing your tax return is a scam artist. That's what the federal government claims Kyle C. Kasten is. They're ... More >>

  • News

    June 24, 2004

    Tax Cuts for Some

    Bugged about property taxes? Buy a skyscraper.

  • News

    June 12, 2003

    Bill's Bargain Tax Bill

    The county says a candidate's home value is no White lie

  • News

    May 29, 2003

    Glass Houses

    Mayoral candidate Michael Berry might want to vet his own supporters' bill-paying histories

  • News

    October 18, 2001

    Fine Arts Fallout

    Will local groups get hammered by the post-terrorist hotel tax dive?

  • News

    September 27, 2001

    Close Quarters

    Questions about conflicts of interest and motives cloud a $77 million city housing deal

  • News

    September 28, 2000

    Taxing Tales

    Two trustees didn't pay their bills, even if HCCS wants yours to go higher

  • News

    August 3, 2000

    Tax Lean

    Want a subsidy for your corporate expansion? Local governments are ready with millions in property-tax abatements -- and very little oversight.

  • News

    December 30, 1999

    Houston's Big Experiment

    The city's first TIRZ set many precedents -- not all of them good

  • News

    December 16, 1999

    Zoned Out

    An A.G.'s opinion only adds to the questions over Houston's special tax districts

  • News

    September 9, 1999

    Working Every Angle

    The city of Houston is exploiting loopholes in state law to lavish big bucks on private developers

  • News

    August 5, 1999

    Dubious Deal

    Special tax zones are already stimulating growth-a thriving cottage industry of attorneys, lobbyists, high paid consultants, developers and questionable financial projections

  • News

    July 29, 1999


    The city of Houston is being carved into special taxing districts, promising windfalls for some, financial burdens for others

  • News

    June 10, 1999

    Campaign Appearances

    For Bush, the legislative session shows it's better to look good than do good

  • News

    October 29, 1998

    Easygoing George W. Bush

    With help from Democrats Pete Laney and Bob Bullock, Bush has been a Republican governor Texans love. But who'll be his pals if he sets his sights on the presidency?

  • News

    June 4, 1998

    No Relief in Sight

    Traffic congestion will remain a problem for westside streets as the Westpark Tollroad and the HOV-lane projects are stalled

  • News

    February 26, 1998

    What a deal!

    Joe Fuentes has no staff, no office, no documentation of the people he says he's helped, but hey, he's a good guy. Let's give him half a million dollars-plus.

  • News

    November 6, 1997

    The Mall That Ate Katy

    Big money, big lobbyists, big tax breaks. The Mills Corporation is bringing one of its "megamalls" to Katy, and it's hardly business as usual in the little town on the prairie.

  • News

    February 20, 1997
  • News

    April 11, 1996

    Archer's Way

    Don't like the IRS? Neither does Bill Archer. And now the mild-mannered Houston congressman is pushing a radical plan to shut it down.

  • News

    March 21, 1996

    A Taxing Situation

    What are the penalties in Harris County's tax collection deal with Heard, Goggan?

  • News

    June 1, 1995
  • News

    June 16, 1994

    Passing the Budget Buck

    The hospital district gives the county $30 million, it gets a budget back. Good deal.

  • News

    May 12, 1994

    A Taxing Situation

    When the tax assessor raises the value of one house on a block through the roof, the question is: Who's next?

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