The Lone Star State is just one of seven states to not impose an income tax on its residents. Despite progressive and liberal legislators attempting to put one in place in years prior, legislation scheduled for a vote on Thursday in the Texas House could make it a taller task for them to achieve going forward.
House Joint Resolution 38 by State Rep. Jeff Leach (R–Plano) would amend the state’s constitution to ban a state income tax from being collected. “The legislature may not impose a tax on the net incomes of individuals, including an individual’s share of partnership and unincorporated association income,” the bill’s language reads. A hard line would be in place for future lawmakers to cross should they decide they want to go to Texans’ paychecks for more money.
But if this session is any indication of what’s ahead, the future becomes a bit uncertain.
Republicans and Democrats alike have been not-so-quietly talking at length about identifying “new and sustainable” revenue streams, and only this week was a proposal to increase the state’s sales tax shot down following polling that showed the plan was wildly unpopular with Texans of virtually every variety.
Though Thursday is the final day the Texas House can vote on such proposals, and the House is consistently behind schedule on its calendars, the precedence constitutional amendments take on the calendar should ensure HJR 38 is one of a small number of bills nearly guaranteed to reach the chamber floor before the midnight deadline.
Its passage requires two-thirds approval from the House, however, which means Democrats will be forced to either support the constitutional amendment or be seen as publicly supporting an income tax on Texans going forward.
The proposal is one that Gov. Greg Abbott has publicly offered his strong support for since its filing last year.
“Texans know far better than government how to spend their own money,” Abbott said upon the bill’s filing in December. “That’s why I applaud Representative Jeff Leach’s proposal to amend the Constitution and forever eliminate the possibility of a state income tax.”
Should the amendment pass the legislature, it would need to be ratified by Texas voters at the polls.