Texas Attorney General Opinion: JC-372 Page: 4 of 8
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Mr. Robert J. Huston - Page 4
by its design, which we will refer to as pollution-reducing production equipment. The following
example provided in your letter contrasts the two types of equipment:
The owner of a new [electricity-generating] boiler elects to
construct the facility so that it will emit less NOx [emissions] than is
required to meet best achievable control technology or the
requirements of 30 TAC Chapter 117. ... [T]he emissions level
could be achieved by adding controls to the end of the process.
Alternatively, the same emissions level could be reached by a unit
that is designed to achieve more complete combustion.
Request Letter, supra note 1, at 3. You ask us to assume that the equipment would meet or exceed
Your question is as follows:
Is equipment, of a type new to a location, that is used to make
a product and by its design limits pollution, or add-on control
equipment installed on new equipment, within the category of
property used for pollution control under 11.31 of the Texas Tax
Request Letter, supra note 1, at 2. We gather your concern is whether a distinction should be made
between measures taken to address pollution that is already being generated by an existing facility
as opposed to pollution that will be generated in the future by a new facility. You also want to know
whether pollution-reducing production equipment and add-on control equipment should be treated
As there are no Texas judicial opinions addressing the contours of the section 11.31 tax
exemption, the issues you raise are questions of first impression. When construing a statute, "our
primary objective is to give effect to the Legislature's intent." Mitchell Energy Corp. v. Ashworth,
943 S.W.2d 436, 438 (Tex. 1997). To give effect to legislative intent, we construe a statute
according to its plain language. See RepublicBank Dallas v. Interkal, Inc., 691 S.W.2d 605, 607-08
(Tex. 1985); Bouldin v. Bexar County Sheriff's Civil Serv. Comm 'n, 12 S.W.3d 527, 529 (Tex.
App.-San Antonio 1999, no pet.). Statutory words and phrases must be "read in context and
construed according to the rules of grammar and common usage." TEX. Gov'T CODE ANN.
311.011 (a) (Vernon 1998). Finally, exemptions from taxation are not favored by the law and "are
subject to strict construction because they undermine equality and uniformity by placing a greater
burden on some taxpayers rather than all." Baptist Mem 'Is Geriatric Ctr. v. Tom Green County
AppraisalDist., 851 S.W.2d 938,942 (Tex. App.-Austin 1993, writ denied) (citing N. Alamo Water
Supply Corp. v. Willacy County AppraisalDist., 804 S.W.2d 894, 899 (Tex. 1991)). The latter rule
of construction guides us when a statute providing a tax exemption is ambiguous. It should not be
employed to construe a tax exemption provision contrary to its plain meaning.
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Texas. Attorney-General's Office. Texas Attorney General Opinion: JC-372, text, 2001; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth274681/m1/4/: accessed April 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.