Last week, the Texas Public Policy Foundation published a new report looking at property taxes in Texas’ major urban centers. In the report, the authors, Anthony Jones and James Quintero, compare property tax levy growth vs. population and inflation increases over five years in select communities. The facts and figures are aimed at helping taxpayers better understand the tax burden in their area.
In Austin, the city, the county, and the school district are each increasing taxes faster than the average taxpayer’s ability to pay.
From 2016 to 2020, property taxes levied by the city of Austin rose an astounding 69.8% whereas population growth and inflation in the area increased just 10.2%. This massive discrepancy signals the need for much greater fiscal restraint.
In similar fashion, Travis County’s property tax burden rose 55.8% over the same period. Meanwhile, the county’s population and inflation measures grew just 14.8%, again signaling a major discrepancy between how fast taxes are growing and how fast taxes should be growing.
Finally, there’s Austin ISD whose tax levy increased by a 33.4%. Meanwhile, the district’s enrollment (which shrank) and inflation combined for a 4.6% bump. The district’s shrinking student population reminds us of an earlier point: “With enrollment in freefall, one might guess that Austin ISD’s tax burden would chart a similar course downward—or at least level off. But unfortunately for taxpayers, the district’s tax burden is stuck on skyrocket.”
The fact that property taxes are growing at such an exaggerated rate indicates that bigger, bolder reforms are needed in the next legislative session. To read about those reforms and to survey property taxes in other areas, click here.