Robb: Business tax breaks, even on tax-free ASU land, aren’t victimless

The Arizona Republic
Friday, January 5, 2018
Bob Robb

The State Farm complex overlooking Tempe Town Lake pays no property tax. That’s because Arizona State University, or more precisely the Arizona Board of Regents, is the nominal owner.

Defending this arrangement in a recent column for the Arizona Republic, ASU President Michael Crow wrote: “(S)tate universities are not depriving K-12 schools of property tax revenue. The land parcels in question have never produced property tax revenue for those schools; no action by universities is taking away any property tax that had been received by schools.”

Within the four corners of that statement, it is entirely accurate. The property was previously owned by the university, which is exempt from property taxation. It was producing no property taxes previously, so schools, and other property tax beneficiaries, didn’t lose anything they had been receiving.