Senate Finance Recommends Property Tax Reforms

The Senate Finance Committee is recommending in its interim report that voters have the opportunity to opt for a higher local sales tax to buy down property taxes.

The report also calls for simpler tax notices that are more transparent in revealing the true change in the taxation burden.

Under the swap plan, voters of a city or county could adopt a local one-quarter-cent sales tax dedicated to property tax reductions in exchange for reducing the rollback threshold for city and county property taxes in their community from 8 percent to 5 percent.

Such an election could be called by a city council or county commissioners court, or signatures could be gathered to petition for one.

The report has not been published online yet, but Senator Kevin Eltife commented on it in a Tyler newspaper article available at: http://www.tylerpaper.com/article/20081116/NEWS08/811160334.

These proposed changes are worthwhile, but stop short of what is needed.

With a true revenue cap of 5 percent, voters would have to sign off before de facto appraisal increases result in property tax collections that exceed 5 percent of the previous year’s collections. In an ideal plan, voters would be given this authority without having to agree to a higher sales tax.

However, the Senate proposal is a step in the right direction.

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