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Texas Comptroller aims to rein in reporting on state-issued corporate tax breaks

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The state’s most lucrative corporate incentive program is now set to expire at the end of 2022, but the true cost of tax breaks designed to lure companies to Texas is still unclear.

Oil and gas giants have saved hundreds of millions by taking advantage of deals using a loophole in the state tax code. Far less is known about how these corporate discounts shift the tax burden to Texas homeowners.

Soon, this information could be even further obscured from public view.

A proposal from the Texas Comptroller seeks to limit the amount of information collected and made available by his office about the value of property tax discounts obtained by corporations through Chapter 313.

According to the Houston Chronicle, companies that signed up for the program in 2020 will receive $10.8 billion over their 10-year agreements. A near-record number of new applications were filed in 2021 ahead of the program’s looming expiration, and most are expected to be approved.

What efforts have been made to improve the collection of and public access to Chapter 313 data? What changes is the Texas Comptroller proposing now and for what reasons?

If these corporate incentives will be shift the tax burden to homeowners, do they have a right to the details? What are the potential implications of reducing government transparency and accountability to taxpayers?

How does the state benefit from offering corporate tax incentives? Was the program considered a success? If so, why kill it? What is the likelihood Chapter 313 will be resurrected in 2023?

Guests: 

  • Dick Lavine, senior fiscal analyst for the progressive nonprofit Every Texan 
  • Mike Morris, investigative reporter for the Houston Chronicle

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, December 7.

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