With the House and Senate prepared to pass a deal on property tax relief later this week, Texans are sounding off on whether the agreement is enough to satisfy taxpayers.
Following a months-long stalemate between the House and Senate on how to distribute funds budgeted for property tax relief, the leaders of the two chambers—Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan—announced a plan yesterday that includes the following:
- $7 billion in new compression of local school property taxes
- An increase of the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000
- A “20% circuit breaker” appraisal cap on non-homesteaded properties under $5 million in value for a three-year pilot program
- Increasing the exemption for the business franchise tax from $1 million to $2.47 million
While both Patrick and Phelan have touted the agreement as historic property tax relief, and Gov. Greg Abbott has said he will sign the legislation when it reaches his desk, others like Fran Rhodes, the president of the True Texas Project, say the Legislature has missed an opportunity to put the state on a firm pathway to eliminate property taxes.
“While I’m happy that the Senate and House are finally talking to each other and have an agreement, I’m still disappointed that only about half of the surplus is going back to taxpayers,” said Rhodes. “The lawmakers will call this a win, but taxpayers lose, again! No path to elimination; we still have to rent our homes from the government.”
Julie McCarty, the organization’s CEO, agreed.
“Personally, I had two goals. Obviously, a path to the elimination of property taxes was one. The other was to provide relief to my tenants. Over 30 percent of Texans rent their dwellings, and they never get any property tax relief. Sadly, we lost on both counts. Any relief seen is temporary at best. I can’t adjust my rent rates based on temporary relief that isn’t even a sure thing in the first place! So Texans get screwed again … and the poorest get screwed the most,” said McCarty.
Don Huffines, a former state senator and the leader of the Huffines Liberty Foundation, called the agreement a “huge disappointment.”
“The Texas Legislature had a historic opportunity to phase out and eliminate the school property tax, but they blew it. Texans are sick and tired of renting their property from the government,” said Huffines.
Republican Party of Texas Chairman Matt Rinaldi, however, showed appreciation for homeowners being prioritized in the final product through raising the homestead exemption.
“We are happy to see that homeowners were prioritized in the final property tax relief package thanks to the efforts of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Senate,” said Rinaldi.
State Rep. Brian Harrison (R–Midlothian), who has filed legislation to put the state on a path toward property tax elimination, called it a “big tax cut” but lamented that more of the state’s surplus dollars weren’t put toward relief.
“I’ll never stop fighting to give Texans more of THEIR MONEY back and abolish property taxes,” said Harrison.
The Senate is expected to pass the legislation on Wednesday, with the House slated to pass the agreement on Thursday.