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Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker gets 2022 tax break on Texas home for primary residence



CNN

Republican Herschel Walker is getting a principal residence-only tax break this year on his home in the Dallas, Texas area, despite running for the Senate in Georgia.

Publicly available tax records reviewed by CNN’s KFile show Walker is listed for a Texas homestead tax exemption in 2022, saving the Senate candidate about $1,500 and potentially violating both tax rules of Texas and certain Georgia rules on establishing residency for the purpose of voting or running for office.

Walker registered to vote in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2021 after living in Texas for two decades and rarely voting. In Texas, homeowners regulations state that you can only claim the exemption for your “principal residence”.

Walker took advantage of the tax relief in 2021 and 2022 for his Texas home even after he launched a bid for the Georgia Senate, an official with the Tarrant County Tax Assessor’s Office told CNN’s KFile. The Walker campaign did not respond to repeated requests for comment from CNN. Walker is set to face Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in a runoff in December after no candidate received more than 50% of the vote in November’s midterm elections.

In the past, Texas politicians have landed in hot water for improperly taking the exemption, including the then governor. Rick Perry, and generally agreed to refund taxes.

Questions have swirled around Walker’s residency since he actively began exploring the possibility of a Senate run in Georgia last year, and both Democrats and Republicans have hit out at Walker over it.

To run for office and vote in Georgia, 15 rules, not all of which must be followed, are taken into account when establishing residency, including where the resident benefits from their property tax exemption and where he intends to live permanently. The US Constitution only requires that a prospective senator be a resident of his state when elected.

Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor at Georgia State University, said Georgia state law on establishing residency to be able to run for office is flexible and that ultimately the biggest Walker’s problem could be political.

“At the end of the day, it’s more of a political issue than a legal one in all likelihood, … where Walker can be described as a baggage handler. It calls into question whether Walker’s change of residence was done in good faith,” Kreis said.

He noted that in 2008, Jim Powell, a Democratic candidate for a local Civil Service Commission seat, was initially disqualified from running for office by Karen Handel, a Republican who served as Secretary of State for Georgia, for having benefited from a property tax exemption outside his district. .

But ultimately, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled the candidate could stay on the ballot, saying 7 of the 15 rules showed he had ties to the district.

“The state Supreme Court said a property exemption alone was not conclusive evidence that could disqualify a candidate,” Kreis told CNN, but said Walker, unlike Powell, n had no long voting history and had only recently returned to Georgia.

11Alive News, a local Georgia station, first reported that Walker benefited from the Homestead Exemption on his Texas home in 2020.

Walker, despite having now voted twice in Georgia and running for the state Senate, maintained the exemption, according to public records. The Texas county tax office where Walker maintains his home upheld the exemption.

Homeowners in many states can claim a tax exemption by declaring their home to be their principal residence and the exemption lowers their tax bill by removing some of the paper value of their home. Under Texas law, if a homeowner moves out of state, the resident can still qualify for the exemption only if they do not establish their “principal residence” elsewhere and plan to return to Texas within two years.

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