Thursday, August 13, 2009

Aggie Governor busted in homestead exemption tax dodge

Perry gives up claim of residency in College Station


Jay Root,
The Associated Press
Copyright 2009

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry gave up his claim of residency in College Station on Wednesday – and the tax break that went with it.

Perry has lived in Austin for nearly two decades, but owns a house in College Station.

In a prepared statement, Perry spokesman Mark Miner says the governor has withdrawn his homestead exemption in College Station. Although Perry lives in a state-provided mansion in west Austin, he began claiming the Brazos County home as his primary residence in 2007.

Miner said Perry will refund a $183.16 school tax break he got in 2008, the year he became eligible for the homestead exemption. Perry's school taxes for 2009 haven't been assessed yet, but the Republican governor will no longer get the tax break, Miner said.

"Although approved by the Brazos County Appraisal District, Gov. Perry today has chosen to withdraw the homestead exemption for his house in College Station," Miner said. "The governor plans to reimburse Brazos County $183.16 in tax savings for the year 2008."

The decision to withdraw the homestead exemption came a day after The Associated Press reported that Perry, who is seeking re-election, had claimed College Station as his primary residence on his application for a homestead exemption there.

Perry's daughter, a Texas A&M student, lives in the College Station home and has roommates that pay rent to the family, officials said.

Where Perry actually lives has never been in dispute. He has made Austin his official home since 1991, after he was elected agriculture commissioner, and he has voted in the state capital since 1992.

After becoming governor in 2000, Perry moved into the Texas governor's mansion. In 2007, Perry took up residence in a posh Austin suburb so the historic downtown building could be renovated. Taxpayers are footing the $9,000-a-month tab for that rental home.

Perry faces a rough-and-tumble Republican primary battle against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. She is starting a five-day campaign announcement tour Monday.

In his statement, Miner said Perry "believes transparency is critical for open and honest government, which is why throughout his career he has always released his tax returns and other financial information."

Perry provided his 2007 tax return this week to the AP and his campaign has called on Hutchison to release her tax records. The Hutchison campaign said the senator would release them but hasn't specified when.

© 2009 The Associated Press:

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