Texas Considers Repealing Property Taxes

Friday, 04 May 2012 09:12 AM

By Robert Engler

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The chairman of the state House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday cautiously endorsed a call by conservative activists to do away with property taxes in Texas, according to the Dallas Morning News.

State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, acknowledged during a hearing on Thursday that “a lot of Texans want to see us do something about property taxes,” and that the issue likely will come up when the legislature returns for its next session early next year.

 “Property taxes are our biggest barrier in the tax code to economic development,” Hilderbran said. “The challenge is finding the right mix to replace it with and understanding the options. If enough of it is good, I’m certainly interested in pursuing this.”

Property tax revenue funds highway projects, police and other public safety services, and schools. Districts get about 38 percent of their revenue from property taxes.

The influential Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank, has proposed raising the state sales tax to 6.25 percent or having it apply to more items to replace lost revenue if the property tax is repealed.

At Thursday’s hearing, Debra Medina, a former gubernatorial candidate and a leader of the property-tax-repeal movement, presented lawmakers with tax-repeal petitions signed by 6,000 residents who believe the “tax causes us to be squatters in our own homes.”

“The property tax is broken, it is not fixable and we’d do well to be rid of it entirely. If we’re to have a prayer of achieving that prosperous economy we boast we have, we must get rid of it,” she said.

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