Pressure is mounting on the Texas Legislature to cut property taxes, following the $15,000 increase in the homestead exemption which was approved in 2015, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Jerome Greener of San Antonio, who is the Texas head of the anti tax group Americans For Prosperity, says the Texas property tax burden is growing twice as fast as inflation.
"Many older property owners are now encountering circumstances where their property taxes are higher than their mortgage payments ever were," Greener told the House Ways and Means Committee, which is looking into tax policy.
Due to the state's lack of an income tax, local governments and especially school districts rely largely on the property tax to fund regular operations.
"Some people are being forced to sell their homes, even if their mortgages are completely paid off," Greener said.
He and other anti tax groups are pushing for a law that would limit local jurisdictions to property tax increases, including increases due to higher property values, which would be no more than the sum of the inflation rate and the rate of population growth. For example, if Bexar County's population growth from year to year is one percent, and the inflation rate is 1.5%, property taxes could not rise more than 2.5%, even when including the real tax rate caused by the increase in property values.
In San Antonio, the property tax increase approved by City Council earlier this year was about 6.4%, as admitted by Councilman Ray Lopez, far more than the combination of population growth and the rate of inflation.
Anti tax advocates are also pushing for automatic rollback elections. Currently, citizens can demand a referendum on tax increases over a certain amount, but that involves a complicated petition drive, and cities have been known to unilaterally reject or even threaten to sue petition signers. The proposal on the table in the coming session would make a rollback election automatic when real property taxes exceed 4%, which would mean San Antonio voters would have the final say on whether they want to pay those significantly higher property taxes.