Georgia U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker still gets tax break on $3 million Texas residence

MCDONOUGH, GEORGIA – NOVEMBER 16: Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker addresses supporters at a campaign rally on November 16, 2022 in McDonough, Georgia. Walker, the University of Georgia Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL running back

Herschel Walker, the former Dallas Cowboys running back and Republican candidate running for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia, is about to get a tax break on his $3 million residence in a Dallas-Fort Worth suburb — may violate Texas tax laws.

According to Tarrant County property and tax records, Walker claimed a homestead exemption for his four-bedroom home in Westlake in 2021 and is expected to do so again this year — even after registering to vote in Georgia last year. Walker has since voted in two elections there, CNN reported.

The exemption saved Walker more than $1,200 on his property tax bill last year, data from the Tarrant County tax advisor-collector show, and should give him more than $1,500 in savings this year.

Walker’s Texas Homestead exemption may also raise questions about his Georgia Senate run. He is in a runoff with US Senator Raphael Warnock, the Democratic incumbent, in a race to determine how tightly the Democrats will control the Senate over the next two years. The U.S. Constitution requires office holders to live in the state in which they are elected.

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Under Texas law, homeowners can claim a homestead exemption — which exempts a certain amount of a home’s value from tax — only for their primary residence. But homeowners can continue to claim the exemption if they “don’t establish a primary residence elsewhere … plan to return to the home … [and] are gone for less than two years,” the state comptroller’s office said.

Walker purchased the Westlake home in 2011, according to Tarrant County appraisal records. He has been claiming the exemption on his Texas home since 2012, records show, allowing him to pay a lower tax bill to the city of Westlake and the Keller Independent School District. School districts make up the bulk of any homeowner’s tax bill in Texas.

Spokesmen for Walker and the Tarrant County tax collector did not immediately return requests for comment.

Homestead exemptions have historically been a fraught area for Texas politicians.

This year, The Texas Tribune reported that U.S. Representative Vicente Gonzalez, a McAllen Democrat, and his wife had double-dipped on real estate tax breaks for at least eight years by claiming exemptions for homesteads on two homes — giving them at least $2,300 in real estate savings from second home taxes. A spokesman for Gonzalez said the congressman would refund the taxes on the second property.

Dan-Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, said he would pay $183 in property taxes on a house his daughter lived in when she attended Texas A&M University after news media reported in 2009 that he had applied for an exemption for the house.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a longtime GOP property tax opponent, had to pay back $595 in taxes while working as a talk show host in 2005 after receiving waivers on two Houston-area properties, the Houston Chronicle reported.

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