Texas property owners seeking tax relief have an opportunity to voice their concerns in Houston on Thursday, September 29th, and in Plano on Monday, October 3rd, before a Senate Select Committee chaired by State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston).
Also appointed to the committee is taxpayer champion State Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano), who represents a large portion of Collin County. Citizens wishing to testify are not required to RSVP, but will be asked to fill out a testimony card upon their arrival.
The Houston hearing will be held at the Houston Community College West Loop Center, while the Plano hearing will be held at Collin College Spring Creek Campus in the Living Legends Conference Center (free parking is available in lot 8). Both hearings are scheduled to begin at 10:00am.
Property taxes in Texas are rising too fast, in part, because local city, county, school and other officials refuse to adopt their “effective tax rate” – the rate low enough to offset rising land values. The result is that – as land values rise – property tax bills increase dramatically each year.
Texas homeowners now pay the 4th highest property tax bills in the nation, a burden 63 percent higher than the national average. Among states without a personal income tax, Texas nearly ties New Hampshire for levying the highest property tax burdens on homeowners, a burden 60 percent higher than the average “no-income tax” state.
Local government interest groups – and the state lawmakers beholden to them – are the loudest and most influential forces standing in the way of tax reform. At every hearing held across the Lone Star State, local officials and their staff, along with government associations such as the Texas Municipal League, advocate for higher taxes and against measures designed to empower taxpayers.
Texas’ Republican-controlled legislature has failed to advance structural reforms, with the exception of last session’s increase in the homestead exemption. Even then, the Straus-led House weakened the final measure to diminish its long-term impact, all in an effort to appease temperamental Republicans and Democrats beholden to the local government lobby.
Driven in part by a local debt epidemic resulting in ever-increasing property taxes, Texas’ economic outlook was downgraded in a study conducted earlier this year by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). A brief list of related reforms can be found in our recent article entitled “Texans Must Speak Loud and Clear on Tax Reform.”
Texas taxpayers must speak louder than the government voices opposing them.