Tax break called into question

Parker County Appraisal District

Parker County Appraisal District

It’s the certainty of taxes that has Jack Cavenah upset with the Parker County Appraisal District. Not that he has to pay them, but that others aren’t while laying claim to an agricultural tax exemption for what he calls “hobby” farms.

Cavenah, and a group of concerned citizens, approached the appraisal board at a meeting on Aug. 19. He said there were 425 properties in the county that claimed the agricultural exemption but did nothing with the land.

“What do you grow on less than an acre and make a living off of?” Cavenah asked? “My answer to that is nothing.”

He said that the county is losing roughly $19.2 million a year by allowing for the exemptions.

“I’ve driven by many of these places, even walked on them, and there is nothing,” he said. “It’s all open land.

“The law says land owners are supposed to produce a product and they aren’t – some aren’t even fenced.”

He said that even the Internal Revenue Service has a section in its tax code on the issue referring to them as “hobby” farms.

“I’m paying for someone else to have a ‘hobby’ farm,” Cavenah said. “I’m not against agricultural exemptions – for the real farmer, – but I don’t want to pay for somebody’s hobby if they don’t pay for mine.”

Cavenah said he had spent thousands of hours researching the subject and has come to the conclusion that anything under 20 acres shouldn’t receive such an exemption.

“I’ve made this my life mission, and I don’t have a whole lot of that left because I’m 76 years old, but this needs to be stopped and stopped now,” he added.

Jay Graham, another concerned citizen, echoed similar sentiments.

“There’s a disparity – a hit and miss method – that reflects on the administration of this office,” Graham said. “It needs to be corrected.”

Parker County Chief Tax Appraiser Larry Hammonds said it wasn’t as simple, citing that the law just doesn’t have the “teeth” it once did when it came to denying agricultural tax exemptions.

Hammonds said that in 1966, the Texas Legislature granted agricultural exemptions to folks using their land for agriculture but that 50 percent of their income had to come as a result of utilizing the land.

“You had to prove that 50 percent or more of your income actually came from your land, so that was pretty restrictive,” Hammonds said.

However, in 1978 the Constitution was amended “broadening” the language. The Legislature took out the clause regarding income or occupation making it easier to gain the exemption.

Hammonds said there were three rules to look at today:

• First, the primary use of the land has to be agricultural. It defines agricultural by giving a lot of examples of the type of agricultural that would quality.

• Second, the degree of intensity that’s typical to the area. “That means we look at what’s typical for other ranches in the area.”

• Third, It has to show a history of five out of the last seven years of some type of agricultural activity.

“There is nothing in the code that talks about making a nickel off of the land,” Hammonds said. “Nothing about income talked about whatsoever in the tax code.”

He said as for the size of the property, the tax code states that any policy that establishes arbitrary minimum size of acreage is ruled invalid.

“So there is not a minimum amount of acres in the tax code,” he added.

“We’ve tried to eliminate some of these exemptions but there’s not enough teeth in the law where they give good guidance on what qualifies and what doesn’t.”

According to Hammonds, Parker County is not alone. All total the county has 578,000 acres with 77 percent qualifying for a tax exemptions. He cited other examples of counties, and the percentage of agricultural exemptions its citizens qualify for such as: Denton County – 60 percent; Johnson County – 70 percent; Erath County – 92 percent and Wise County – 79 percent.

“It’s difficult to administer a law that has such broad-based qualifications,” Hammonds said. “We’re trying, but with 900 square miles, it’s just hard to clean up.”

Twitter: @Lancewinter

6 responses

  1. “It’s the certainty of taxes that has Jack Cavenah upset with the Parker County Appraisal District. Not that he has to pay them, but that others aren’t while laying claim to an agricultural tax exemption for what he calls ‘hobby’ farms.”


    ” ‘I’m paying for someone else to have a ‘hobby’ farm,” Cavenah said. ‘I’m not against agricultural exemptions – for the real farmer, – but I don’t want to pay for somebody’s hobby if they don’t pay for mine.’ ”

    Property taxes are generally the greatest source of revenue for public schools. Public schools is the communist daycare system that generally disseminates politically-correct, and secular, but faux education to the majority of our young. Public schools are where most folks send their “rug rats” while the parent(s) do one of two things…roughly 50% either go to work so they can afford to pay property taxes…while the other roughly 50% sit at home waiting on more welfare benefits, compliments of the people who do work…and compliments of the federal government “printing press” which prints money out of thin air and creates the hidden tax for all called “inflation”.

    There are generally three types of people who never benefit from the communist property tax system that funds our generally sorry public school systems…those who never had children, those who choose (chose) to home-school, and those who choose (chose) to send their children to private schools to obtain a generally much better education in a generally much better environment for young, malleable minds.

    I fall in the latter category. I had one child who went to private Christian schools from pre-K through a 4-year college degree. I never subjected my child to the morally and intellectually devoid socialist propaganda of public schools. I had folks tell me that I was “sheltering” my son from the real world by sending him to private Christian schools. Glad that I did…I gave him a chance to form a solid moral foundation.

    I say that not out of arrogance for I was not born with a “silver spoon in my mouth”…I have worked for everything I have…and still work 6 1/2 days a week. My wife and I sacrificed many a new car and many a vacation over the years to ensure that our son had the best opportunities to begin life with a good moral and educational foundation. And it has paid off in spades. At 25 years of age, he is happily married to a Christian woman and is self-employed in a growing business. Never the first problem…ever.

    Yet, I am forced by people with guns (communism is defined as “socialism with an
    AK-47”) to pay for the generally sorry public education of other folks’ children…year after year after year after year…until I breathe my last breath in life.

    “People with guns”? If you fail to pay your designated property taxes, the taxing governmental entity forecloses on your property and sends people with badges and guns to put you and yours on the street while they auction what you thought was at least partly yours to pay the back taxes.

    If I had ever gone to my neighbor’s house and advised him that I needed $6,000 a year from him to send my son to private school…and if he didn’t pay, I would come to his home with my gun to put he and his family on the streets while I sold his home at public auction to pay for my son’s private school tuition, he would have called the police and filed criminal charges for “Terroristic Threat”. Sending people in government-issued costumes to do the same thing is just as morally reprehensible to the idea of a free society in which the concept of private property is supposedly sacrosanct. It once was.

    Precious few people now own any private property…save those very few who have an “allodial title”…or a title that has been passed down from generation to generation within a family whereby property taxes generally do not have to be paid. Folks can pay cash for the entire purchase price of a specific property, but the local governmental taxing entity is a “superior landlord” in that, if you don’t pay your “rent” in the form of “property taxes”, they will evict you and yours. So, unless you have an “allodial title”, you don’t OWN anything.

    For those who will argue that the excuse-for-an-education generally served up in the public school system “benefits society as a whole”…show me the public school graduate…or even the public college graduate…who can pass this 1895 8th Grade graduation test…

    The following document was transcribed from the original document in the collection of the Smoky Valley Genealogy Society, Salina, Kansas. This test is the original eighth-grade final exam for 1895 from Salina, Kansas. An interesting note is the fact that the county students taking this test were allowed to take the test in the 7th grade, and if they did not pass the test at that time, they were allowed to re-take it again in the 8th grade. Also of note, the school year was but 7 months, beginning October 1 and ending April 1. allowing 5 months for planting, farming and harvest.

    April 13, 1895
    J.W. Armstrong, County Superintendent.

    Examinations at Salina, New Cambria, Gypsum City, Assaria, Falun, Bavaria, and District No. 74 (in Glendale Twp.)

    Reading and Penmanship. – The Examination will be oral, and the Penmanship of Applicants will be graded from the manuscripts

    Grammar (Time, one hour)

    1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
    2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.
    3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.
    4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.
    5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.
    6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
    7-10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

    Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

    1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
    2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
    3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts. per bu, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
    4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
    5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
    6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
    7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $.20 per inch?
    8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
    9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?
    10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

    The questions for “U.S. History”, “Orthography”, “Geography”, and “Health” can be found at this link…

    Anyone who can escape the communist, government taxing scheme known as “property taxes” by whatever loophole is available, I say, “Vaya con Dios!!!” You have my blessing.

    To paraphrase Jack Cavenah, “I don’t want to pay for somebody’s children’s education if they don’t (didn’t) pay for my child’s education.”

    Some folks might say, “That was your choice to send your child to private school!” I would respond, “Choice?!? “Choice” indicates freedom and liberty, concepts that are foreign to the ever-creeping concepts of socialism and communism with which Amerika is now thoroughly infested at every level of government. “Choice” would mean that I have the right to choose whether to help someone educate their chillun’ by contributing the fruits of my labor as opposed to having them confiscated by threat of force.

    My advice? If you can’t afford to raise ’em (chillun’), don’t have ’em. Reality? Uncle Sugar…local, state, and Federal…will ensure that you don’t have to “reap what you have sown” to educate your progeney since government will steal by force from those who once exhibited some hormonal self-control to pay for your probable more-than-once lack thereof.

    True freedom and liberty means that your “right” to educate your children ends at the property line of what is supposed to be my real property.

  2. They left out one speaker who said “None of you should be here. You shouldn’t have this job, because we shouldn’t have any Property taxes” I’d have to agree.

    1. Senator_Blutarsky

      That would be me.

      That was me.

  3. Brubaker, once again you take an article on apples (fraudulent exemptions) and write a dissertation on oranges (public education) Your paraphrase is incorrect. I was educated in the public school system like most in my generation and my parents paid taxes for schools just as I do. The point is this: I pay my fair share willingly and hate the cheaters who don’t pay their fair share. Are you by chance one of those?

  4. Senator_Blutarsky

    I also said ( words to this effect ), that we were dealing with a symptom – inequitable and very arbitrary values…

    The CAUSE is a property tax system that should not even EXIST at the expense of any property owner being in danger of losing property over debt incurred to a taxing authority.

    What are the States With No Income Tax?

    The US states that have no tax on income are Alaska, Florida, South Dakota, Washington, Nevada, Wyoming, and Texas. This means that if you live in any of these states, you don’t have to pay state taxes on your income each year, and you should omit this when doing tax planning.

    Does No Income Tax Mean That You Pay Less in Taxes?

    Each state needs money to operate. This means that states that do not have income tax have to collect the money from somewhere else. In Texas, you might not pay any income tax at all, but the property tax rates there one of the highest in the country (1.80 percent of the property value).

    Here is what MY candidate for Governor of Texas has to say on this issue-

    Everywhere we turn, we are being overtaxed. Property taxes, franchise taxes, tax, tax, tax. We need to get rid of property taxes and the franchise tax and replace them with–nothing! It’s not that we tax ourselves too little; it’s that we spend too much.

    Property taxation is a liberty issue as well as a financial issue. If you can lose your home, farm, or ranch due to unpaid property taxes, you are really a renter from the government, not a landowner. No Texan should ever lose his or her home, farm, or ranch due to non-payment of property taxes.

    Our current system of arbitrarily appraising the value of property using a frustrating, wasteful, bureaucratic process is broken. More and more Texans are being taxed out of their homes. This increases apartment rents, as well.

    Valuations tend to go up each year, even in a housing downturn and recession. There are discrepancies in valuations. The Texas Association of Appraisal Districts estimates that commercial properties and raw land are under-appraised, causing a disproportionate burden on residential homeowners.

    The Republican leadership in Texas obstinately refuses to lower the cap on the increase of property taxes below its current 10%. If your valuation goes up 7% each year, your tax bill will double in 10 years (the well-known “rule of 72”). Can you afford that? Of course not. Other states have placed serious caps of increases in property taxes.

    My plan for property taxes is as follows:

    1) Eliminate the state school property tax (which makes up most of the taxation on property) and replace it with — nothing. This will reducerevenue to the government schoolsby about 40%, putting us at levels seen just ten years ago. This reduction can be easily managed by eliminating the provision of a public education to non-citizens and by restoring the Texas school system to its constitutional mission of providing an efficient education that eliminates frills, counter productive measures such as bilingual education, bureaucratic mandates from Washington and Austin, and many administrative positions. This approach is part of a much needed, long awaited overhaul of our public education system, as will be more fully set forth in my education plank.

    2) As to other, non-school property taxes, we must ensure that homeowners, farmers, and ranchers never lose their land due to non-payment of property taxes. Forced collections for past due taxes should only occur upon sale or transfer of the property.

    3) The expensive, burdensome, and arbitrary process of artificially appraising property must be drastically reformed. Appraisal districts and review boards must bear the burden of proving that the appraisal is correct both with respect to market value and as compared to other comparable properties. The taxpayer must be awarded his reasonable attorney’s fees and costs for a successful legal suit challenging the appraisal.
    The elimination of the school property tax will bring much needed tax relief to all of Texas – homeowners, commercial property owners, and renters. It will be a major incentive for new business and families to move to Texas.


    The franchise tax is a particularly vicious job-destroying, business-destroying tax. Our Texas Constitution, Article 8, Section 24, prohibits an income tax on the net incomes of natural persons. In 2006, our treacherous legislature, with the approval of our current governor, changed the franchise tax to apply to gross incomes, as though our Texas founders intended to allow such an outrageous taxation. This new version of the franchise tax has been called a gross margins tax, as it taxes a business based on revenues even if it loses money.

    In 2009, responding to the outcries of small business all over Texas due to this hideous franchise tax increase pushed by our current governor, the Texas legislature persuaded the governor to sign a temporary law exempting businesses with revenues under $1 million from the franchise tax, but the relief was only for two years. The franchise tax will start destroying small businesses and jobs again in 2011, next year, unless the legislature and governor act.

    Have you heard the governor calling for a permanent extension of the temporary protection of small business? Have you heard the governor calling for elimination of the franchise tax, altogether? Or his Democratic opponent, on either account? If so, you might want to get your hearing checked.

    Once again, if you want to eliminate or even restrict the franchise tax, I am your only choice for governor. I will push the legislature to eliminate the Texas franchise tax, and I will veto any income tax in Texas.

    you big government “Republicons”………..just keep voting the way you have – you must love being a servile knave.

  5. With all the computers and technology. We should be able to eliminate public schools. At the very least, most of the studying should be done at home. And then once a week a student goes in to take a test. Eliminating 90% of the need for large schools and the expenses associated.

    There are two kinds of people. Those trying to make a living. And the bureaucrat, leaching off of them.

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