The 86th Texas Legislature is entering the final weeks of its regular session, which ends at midnight May 27th. Property tax relief has been one of the main issues of this session. Below is an update on the current status of the bills likely to pass...
Senate Bill 2 was passed in the Senate and sent to the House on April 16th. This bill contains a number of improvements in the ad valorem process, including improving the appeal system, increasing transparency, and perhaps most significant, it requires cities, counties, and emergency service districts to hold a tax ratification election in order to raise the tax rate beyond 3.5% over the tax rate that would yield the same revenue as in the previous year. Current law allows an 8% increase without voter approval.
House Bill 3 is a school finance bill that makes a number of important improvements in the administration, educational functions, and funding of public education. It also contains provisions for significantly reducing school maintenance and operations taxes.
House Bill 4621 and House Joint Resolution 3 provide new funding for public education and a Constitutional Amendment authorizing the legislation. The measures propose increasing the sales tax rate by 1%, from 6.25% to 7.25%. This additional rate is expected to yield about $5 billion in actual income, which would be dedicated to reducing school property tax maintenance and operations cost.
The passage of these legislative acts is not certain but look promising at this time. Should they pass as currently written, these bills combined provide about $7 billion in school tax relief (Texas schools levied a tax of $34.8 billion in fiscal 2018).
Coupling these reductions in school taxes with restraints in tax rate growth provided by SB2, Texas taxpayers should expect a significant reduction in their tax bills and experience a more reasonable property tax climate in the future.