1. Property tax rates are set by the appropriate authorities.
2. The responsible appraisal districts provide property owners with their appraised value on which taxes will be based.
3. The property owner has the ability to appeal the appraised valuation through a process laid out via statute.
Everyone, from a single family homeowner to the biggest corporation has the ability to appeal their appraised valuation. Tens of thousands do every year.
So why is this a news story:
Exxon Mobil, Harris County engage in tax feud. Nancy Sarnoff, HoustonChronicle.com ($$$)
Exxon Mobil is fighting the Harris County Appraisal District over the $1.04 billion value placed on its sprawling new office complex in Spring, just south of The Woodlands.
The oil giant, which has been guarded about the campus project, would not provide its own estimation of the property's value. But its appeal claims the actual value "is substantially below" what was assessed.
There is absolutely nothing unusual about this, nothing especially newsworthy, and certainly nothing that elevates it to the level of "tax feud".
Unless that is, you're trying (through the headline) to make it seem that Exxon-Mobil is trying to be sneaky and somehow not pay "their fair share" of taxes, to take money away "from the children". Which is what big, evil oil companies do right?
Of course, "Exxon-Mobil disputes their property taxes, as do thousands of others" doesn't make for a click-bait headline in a news outlet that's increasingly devolving into a review of social media running in between slide-shows of scantily-dressed women.
It should be noted, I don't blame the reporter, Nancy Sarnoff, for this. It's pretty clear reading the article that she's not trying to cast this as a "feud". As a matter of fact, reading the article the entire thing sounds pretty mundane (which, it is FWIW).
But then you have to wonder what editor thought this was a good story line to begin with?
To be honest, Kate Middleton's childhood pictures are more newsworthy. At least she's got a title.
For a while it seemed that the Chron was going to be content to keep the behind-the-paywall content on their website pretty straight-forward and newsy. After the decision was made to hide the Editorial Board however, the content bleed has slowly continued. That's a bad thing for those who would like their news straight, with little hype, but it's another bullet-point in the argument that the Houston Chronicle should drop the pretense of unbiased journalism and embrace their role as left-of-center journal. Because big, evil oil not paying their "fair share" of taxes IS a big deal to the left after all, and a truly unbiased news source might think it prudent to mention that.
Or, at the least, not try and engage in such hyperbole regarding the same.