Republican Herschel Walker is getting a primary residence-only tax break this year on his Dallas, Texas, area home, despite running for Senate of Georgia.
Publicly available tax records reviewed by CNN’s KFile show Walker is listed to receive a Texas homestead tax exemption in 2022, saving the Senate candidate about $1,500 and potentially runs afoul of both Texas tax rules and some Georgia rules about establishing residency for the purpose of voting or running for office.
Walker registered to vote in Atlanta, Georgiain 2021 after lives in Texas for two decades and rarely votes. In Texas, home owner regulations say that you can only take the exemption on your “main residence”.
Walker took the 2021 and 2022 tax credit for his home in Texas even after launching a bid for the Georgia Senate, a Tarrant County tax assessor’s office official told CNN’s KFile. The Walker campaign did not respond to CNN’s repeated requests for comment. Walker will face Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in a December runoff after neither candidate received more than 50% of the vote in November’s midterm elections.
To vote in Georgia, 15 rulesnot all of which must be met, is considered for establishment of residence, which includes where the resident takes their farm tax exemption and where they intend to live permanently. The American constitution only requires a potential senator to be a resident of their state when elected.
Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor at Georgia State University, said Georgia’s state law on establishing residency to be eligible to run for office is flexible and, ultimately, Walker’s biggest problem may be political.
“Ultimately, this is more of a political issue than a legal issue in all likelihood … where Walker can be painted as a carpetbagger. It calls into question whether Walker’s change of residence was made in good faith,” Kreis said.
He noted that in 2008, Jim Powell, a Democratic candidate for a local Public Service Commission seat, originally disqualified from running for office by Karen Handel, a Republican who was Georgia’s secretary of state, for take exemption from household tax outside his district.
“The state Supreme Court said that a homestead exemption by itself was not dispositive evidence that could disqualify a candidate,” Kreis told CNN, but said Walker, unlike Powell, lacks a long-standing voting history and only recently had moved back to Georgia.
11Alive News, a local Georgia station, first reported that Walker train homestead exemption at his home in Texas in 2020.
Walker, despite now voting twice in Georgia and running for the state Senate, has maintained the exemption, according to public records. The Texas IRS, where Walker has his home, confirmed the exemption.
Homeowners in many states are able to claim a tax exemption by declaring their home as their primary residence, and the exemption lowers their tax bill by removing a portion of their home’s paper value. Under Texas law, if a homeowner moves out in the state, the resident can still receive the exemption only if they do not establish a “principal residence” elsewhere and plan to return to Texas within two years.