Skyrocketing property taxes is a problem. In the past five years, Bexar County has seen an exponential hike in property taxes. All property in the state of Texas is subject to taxation unless federal or state law exempts it from the tax. Article 8, Sec 1(a) of the state constitution states that “all taxation shall be equal and uniformed.” However, some citizens argue that the Texas property tax system is not always equal and uniform.
Because property tax is a regressive tax, taxpayers in the lower income bracket suffer the most. Many of them miss the tax deadline on February 1. What happens next is a snowball of penalties and interest that accrue every month until the account is paid in full. For example, if the taxpayer does not pay their tax by February 1, penalty charges totaling 7% are charged to the account. Penalties continue to increase by one percent until July, reaching a maximum allowed of 12%. Interest, however, continues to accrue at 1% per month until the account is paid in full. Additionally, a collection penalty is charged to the account at 20% in July and every month until the account is paid in its entirety. Unfortunately, often times their property ends up being auctioned on the steps of the county courthouse, not to say that people with higher income cannot suffer the same fate.
Considering the sacrifices property owners make in paying their “fair share”, it is necessary for taxing units to be transparent in taxation, as they also work to reduce government waste in projects that involve a bridge to nowhere. It is saddening to see a person who worked all their lives to afford a home, only to lose it due to their inability to pay property taxes.
The Texas legislature has taken steps to help relieve property owners of this ever-growing problem. However, not enough has been done to help taxpayers. The Texas Property Tax Code needs to be reformed. Additionally, funding public education is an issue that we all care about. Yet, we can not allow local governments to grow faster than the population and inflation rates. All citizens want their children to have access to quality education, however, Local ISD's need to do their part in fiscal responsibility. A shifting of resources from administration to the classroom is vital. I would advocate for increasing property tax transparency and giving local voters more control over property tax increase proposals. In protecting property rights, eliminating property taxes in exchange for a reformed sales tax could aid the prosperity of all Texas.