The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s 2022 Policy Orientation is officially over; but the issues and ideas discussed there are sure to stick around for a while.
One particularly important problem discussed at this year’s event was property taxes, featuring TPPF’s own, Vance Ginn and James Quintero as well as the Texas Association of Business’ Glenn Hamer and Texas entrepreneur Kelly Haight.
Quintero began the panel, titled Home Economics: Reducing the Burden on Overtaxed Texans, by pointing out that: “We have a property tax problem in the Lone Star State” and that Texans are being crushed by rising property taxes. To illustrate the point, Quintero elevated the plight of Travis County taxpayers.
In fiscal year 2015, the average Travis County resident paid $5,471 in property taxes. For the current fiscal year, the average Travis County resident pays $9,261 in property taxes. That is the equivalent of a 70% increase in property taxes. This exorbitant rise in annual property taxes is forcing hardship on families.
Which raises the question: Why are property taxes rising so quickly? Quintero argues that runaway spending, excessive debt, and a big government mentality among many urban governments are the source.
In looking for a solution, the panel broached a plan put forward by the Foundation, seen in the publication titled Lower Taxes, Better Texas. This plan would eliminate the vast majority of property taxes across the state by limiting government spending and using surplus dollars to lower local property taxes. Specifically, the focus is on eliminating maintenance and operations (M&O) property taxes in Texas by 2033.
The plan would accomplish its goal by using state general revenue surpluses to permanently lower the school district M&O property taxes over time until eliminating the rest by redesigning the tax code with a broader sales tax base. Simultaneously, cities, counties, and special purpose districts should effectively limit their spending and use surplus dollars to buy down their own M&O property taxes until the broader sales tax base provides an opportunity to eliminate those property taxes.
Collectively, the plan to eliminate 80% of all property taxes in Texas would provide substantial tax relief for every Texan and eliminate the school districts’ Robin Hood property tax system with a focus on controlling government spending. It’s an ambitious plan, but it’s wholly necessary.
Today, Texas’ property tax system forces homeowners “to rent their homes from the government.” Fail to pay your taxes and the government will eventually lay claim to your property.
The status quo is unsustainable, and Texans deserve the right to own their own homes without the fear of property rights infringement from the government.
With local property taxes growing faster than the average taxpayer’s ability to pay for them, fiscal responsibility and accountability are necessary to preserve the republic and property rights for everyday Texans. That’s the way for Texans to have the peace of mind of actually owning more of their home.
The Lower Taxes, Better Taxes plan highlighted at the Foundation’s Policy orientation does just that and more by preserving property rights, promoting fiscal responsibility, and promoting economic prosperity for all.
To watch this year’s discussion in full click here.