The company selling the ‘Rock of Truth’ campus just missed a glaring example of appraisal fraud right under their noses. Belo Corp reportedly just sold the old Dallas Morning News downtown campus at 508 Young Street for $28 million. The 325,000 square-foot campus includes two buildings and a parking garage on roughly 8 acres. That 8 acre site happens to be one of the largest redevelopment sites in downtown Dallas Texas. The former campus of Dallas’ largest newspaper was purchased by Ray Washburne, a local developer who owns Charter Holdings. Washburne also bought a shopping center in West Dallas this month.

It remains to be seen what will become of the old stomping grounds of Dallas’ largest newspaper. What is more fascinating is how DMN reporters could completely miss the story of such glaring incompetence by the Dallas Central Appraisal District in “appraising” the campus on 508 Young Street. The value history from the Dallas CAD for 508 Young Street reads like a textbook case of Texas’ two-tiered property tax system…because that’s exactly what it is.

Since the property was just sold for $28 million, one has to wonder why the Dallas CAD valued one of Dallas’ largest development sites at less than $18 million last year. But wait, it gets better. It’s bad enough that the Dallas Central Appraisal District undervalued this prime piece of Dallas real estate by 59 percent last year compared to the recent sale price. What is more entertaining is that the DCAD valuation on this 8 acre commercial campus effectively changed by ONE percent in the period from 2010 to 2017 rising from $14,015,080 in 2010 to just $14,160,000 in 2017. You read that right ladies and gentlemen. While the property taxes on your home were marching higher, the market value from the CAD was virtually unchanged on a prime piece of downtown Dallas real estate. DCAD’s market values on the ‘Rock of Truth’ during that period look even more absurd considering prices in the U.S. commercial property market were doing this.

The Texas Legislature has just a week left to bomb out on another feeble attempt at property tax reform in Texas. The odds are looking really good that your conflicted legislators in Austin are again going to come up long on rhetoric and short on answers when it comes to making your property tax bill either fair or transparent. As I have explained before, there are a number of important business constituents in the Lone Star state who like the entrenched system of fraud the state advertises as uniform and equal appraisal.

Just as the “reporters” at the Dallas Morning News missed the larger story behind the sale of their old campus, Texas legislators are missing the boat when it comes to lowering your property tax bill. To put it more bluntly, Texas legislators aren’t lowering your property tax bill because doing so in a sustainable way would entail a complete upheaval/overhaul of the current incestuous and corrupt system we currently have in place. It would be much easier to scrap the current property tax system in Texas than it will be to fix the operational rot that makes the current system so dysfunctional, and yet so profitable for wealthy and commercial interests.

The Texas Property Tax system has come to mirror other aspects of our lives where fraud has become institutionalized. As Charles Hugh Smith detailed in a piece titled ‘The Normalization and Institutionalization of Fraud’, there are plenty of examples of how fraud has been normalized as business as usual. I think the Texas Property tax system provides an excellent example of the commoditization of fraud. The state can call it uniform and equal “appraisal” all they want, but that doesn’t change the reality experienced by Texas homeowners.

“They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane.” George Orwell, 1984