There are more than 4,000 separate taxing jurisdictions in Texas that impose property tax to fund their operations. So it's easy to see how property owners can get confused about who is taxing them and why. The Texas Comptroller's Office set up a new website called TexasTransparency.org in an effort to make the system more transparent.
Taxes Keep Going Up
With greater transparency, officials are able to document how Texas property taxes have increased. From 1992-2010, local property tax levies jumped 188% to $40.38 billion. Public schools took the biggest piece of the property tax pie.
The rise in city and county property taxes reflects an increase in the number and value of properties in Texas. Other factors also played a role, including:
State funding cuts, which forced local officials to raise taxes to keep the same services
An increase in special purpose taxing districts
The number of special purpose districts that levy property tax has increased by more than 45% since 1992.
Transparency is Important
With greater transparency, taxpayers have the tools to examine documents and root out inefficiencies. Access to information on local taxing entities and tax revenues can help voters make informed decisions when a local government proposes adding a tax, increasing a tax rate or issuing debt that taxpayers will be responsible for repaying.
While the Comptroller's website offers general information and links, it has its limits. Local appraisal district websites have more specific data on individual properties and their tax expense.