Documents recently received from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office reveal Texans are fed up with property taxes.
In December, Texas Scorecard sought citizens’ opinions on property taxes by filing an open records request with the governor’s office for the last six months of constituent correspondence on the subject. In response, Abbott’s office provided 979 pages of relevant emails, staff notes, and voicemail transcripts.
The following comments are a small sample of those reviewed.
“I’m about to lose my property.”
Countless Texans, especially retirees living on a fixed income, expressed fear of losing their homes due to high property taxes.
“Please eliminate property taxes so our retirees and others don’t lose their homes,” Terry from Justin told Abbott’s office.
Renwick in Niederwald said, “How about some relief for those of us on a fixed income, and stop making Texas another California!”
“We are being taxed out of our homes,” said Linda from Houston.
Laura from Grand Prairie agreed. “My taxes are pushing me out of my home!”
“I’m about to lose my property,” said Melanie from Kerens.
“Form of slavery”
Others remarked that having to pay property taxes means they never actually own their homes and are really just renting them from the government.
“It really is exasperating when basically a fourth of my total income goes toward property and school taxes and home insurance, just for the privilege [of] staying in my home after retirement!” said Johnny from Waco.
Leland from Poolville asked Abbott to “find a way to fund Texas schools without making property owners pay rent on their own property every year,” arguing that “we need to eliminate property taxes in Texas!”
Fred in Arlington stated bluntly, “Property taxes amount to a form of slavery, as they must be paid no matter what.”
“I still owe property taxes until my death or I sell my home. If I die and my wife survives, she must continue to pay until her death or sale of the home. If I stop paying my property taxes, the government seizes my home and sells it to pay the taxes. Texans do not own their homes, but merely lease them from the state,” he elaborated.
“Words on paper”
Many complained they had grown tired of empty promises from politicians.
“Texas taxpayers are a little cynical about property tax relief because the last legislature promised relief, and we have higher bills than ever,” said Wally from Eddy.
Cheryl from Orange told Abbott’s office, “I’m tired of the promises to fix the taxes, and year after year, mine go up.”
Frank in Dallas said that previous attempts at property tax reform were “so minor that it felt like a drop in the bucket instead of true reform.”
Again, Fred in Arlington did not hold back in his criticism.
“Republicans have a plan, but so far it is just words on paper with no action to really eliminate property taxes. … Considering the Republican Party controls the state House, Senate, and governorship, then why has the repeal of property taxes not already taken place per the party platform? … I implore you to repeal and eliminate property taxes and give Texans true freedom and the right to own our homes without fear of government seizure.”
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar reported the state is projected to have a $32.7 billion budget surplus, and interest groups of all stripes are clamoring for a piece of the pie.
While politicians have spouted off all kinds of promises about what they intend to do with this money, it’s almost certain a portion will be dedicated to property tax relief, and there’s intense debate about the specific amount.
Abbott has said that up to half of the surplus should go to property tax relief, adding that he wants to put the state on a path to eliminating school property taxes.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has tried to stake out a similar position, but a major component of his plan is increasing the homestead exemption, which would merely slow the growth of property taxes, as the past two years since the last increase have demonstrated. Patrick has not indicated where he stands on an effort to eliminate school property taxes, and he seems reluctant to put more than $12 billion toward property tax relief, as doing so would exceed the newly implemented spending limit.
House Speaker Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont) has expressed support for appraisal reform but has not explicitly endorsed any specific proposals for long-term property tax relief.
Although it’s important to know what politicians think about the issue, citizens wield the real power in our republic, and their opinions are what truly matter when it comes to policy.
Texans can let their elected officials know what they think about their property tax bills using the contact information in the Texas Scorecard directory.
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