The case for property tax relief

Photo by Todd Wiseman

That collective gasp you hear is the sound of sticker shock as homeowners across Texas open up their new property tax bills. 

Assessments are up at staggering rates, including an average of 15 percent in Houston, 11 percent in Austin, 11 percent in San Antonio and 9 percent in Dallas. Homeowners are being gouged more and more every year, and we believe enough is enough.

The Texas Senate has taken strong action to help property owners, who are shouldering an unfair, disproportionate amount of the overall tax burden. Our chamber has approved Senate Joint Resolution 1, Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 1760, which together provide $2 billion in immediate, meaningful and lasting property tax relief. 

SJR 1 and SB 1 raise the homestead exemption — which has not been increased since 1997 — to 25 percent of the state’s median home value. This means that as home values rise, so will savings for taxpayers. The average homeowner would save $207 in 2016, and that savings is projected to increase to $235 in 2017. Texas homeowners need this relief now, and that’s why SJR 1 will go before voters on the constitutional amendment election ballot in September, allowing homeowners to realize savings starting in 2016. 

Homeowners also deserve to know that this savings won’t evaporate in the face of rising property taxes. To address this concern, the Senate approved SB 1760, putting downward pressure on property taxes. It reforms the way property taxes are set and requires a 60 percent supermajority vote of the governing body to raise property taxes. It requires taxing authorities to justify on election notices and in actual ballot language the reason for attempting to increase tax rates, rather than simply publishing the new tax rate.

The Senate’s plan to increase the homestead exemption would ensure that 100 percent of this relief goes to homeowners. In contrast, businesses pay 41 percent of the sales tax, so less than 60 percent of a flat sales tax reduction — the tax relief supported by House leadership — would benefit average Texans. 

The Legislature must do its part to provide Texans with property tax relief and property tax reform. Now that these bills have passed the Senate, the finish line is within sight. These proposals need to reach Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.

Texas homeowners need to know that help is on the way.

Jane Nelson

State senator, R-Flower Mound

@SenJaneNelson

Paul Bettencourt

State senator, R-Houston

@TeamBettencourt

Brandon Creighton

State senator, R-Conroe

@CreightonForTX

Robert Nichols

State senator, R-Jacksonville

Carlos Uresti

State senator, D-San Antonio

@CarlosUresti

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