As lawmakers in the Texas House are pushing a “silver bullet” property tax “relief” proposal to raise the state’s sales tax, a leading national taxpayer advocate has come out swinging against the idea.
Calling it a “misguided tax hike”, Grover Norquist—on behalf of his organization Americans for Tax Reform—wrote a letter to lawmakers in the Texas House urging them to oppose House Joint Resolution 3, legislation which seeks to raise the states sales tax to grow government and only offer partial property tax relief.
“Such a tax swap would result in a harmful net tax hike at a time when the state already has a budget surplus. At a time when states around the country are taking action to make their tax codes less burdensome and more conducive to growth, raising state taxes will hinder Texas’s ability to compete for jobs and investment.”
Norquist, a leading fiscal hawk and taxpayer advocate started and heads ATR, which he founded under the Reagan administration. ATR fights tax increases on the state and national level, and notably puts lawmakers and candidates for office on the record for voters with their Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
“We believe in a system in which taxes are simpler, flatter, more visible, and lower than they are today,” the organization says.
In the letter, Norquist also suggests Texas’ national reputation could be in jeopardy if tax burdens in the Lone Star State continue to rise.
“…once business owners or investors make the decision to bring new capital or create jobs in the U.S., either by relocating or expanding operations stateside, they then have 50 choices before them when it comes to which state to choose. That’s why it is more important than ever for state legislators in Texas to do everything they can to make the Lone Star State a more attractive place to invest, do business, live, and raise a family. The proposed sales tax hike would take the state in the wrong and opposite direction by imposing an overall increase in the state tax burden.”
Texas’ skyrocketing property tax rates are no secret. A recent article by the Wall Street Journal’s real estate magazine placed Texas third in average property tax burden, behind only New Jersey and Illinois.
Lawmakers seeking to provide meaningful and lasting property tax relief would be better served dedicating the state’s surplus revenue to property tax relief and passing legislation to allow voters the opportunity to reign in increased taxes by cities, counties, school districts, and other local taxing entities.
The full letter to lawmakers from Grover Norquist can be read here.