Texas Municipal League
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
TML: Tax relief bill shortchanges the elderly
AUSTIN – A bill passed by the Texas Senate imposing state restrictions on city revenues would give the smallest tax breaks, if any, to elderly and disabled homeowners.
“The method the Senate has chosen for providing property tax relief guarantees that homeowners who qualify for the over 65 or the disabled exemption on their homes will get practically no tax cut,” said Bennett Sandlin, Executive Director of the Texas Municipal League.
“Anyone who calls this tax relief is really committing tax fraud,” Sandlin said.
SB 2, passed by the Senate on Tuesday, would place a 5 percent cap on city property tax increases, restricting the ability of cities to fund police and fire protection, road construction, and economic development incentives. At a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the bill last week, mayors and more than 100 uniformed police, sheriffs, fire fighters, and emergency medical technicians expressed their opposition to the bill.
According to estimates by the Texas Municipal League, if SB 2 had been in effect for the current tax year, the owner of a home with a market value of $250,000 in the City of Dallas would have seen a $27.69 reduction in city taxes on a total tax bill – including school district, county, and special district taxes – of more than $5,400. The owner of a $250,000 home in Dallas who is over 65 or disabled would have seen an even smaller annual tax savings of $18.83, or only $1.57 per month, in city taxes.
In the City of San Antonio, the owner of a $250,000 home would have seen a savings of only $12.01 this year from the SB 2 cap on city taxes, while the savings for a homeowner over 65 in San Antonio would have been only $8.89 on a $250,000 home.
Homeowners in the cities of Houston, Fort Worth, and Austin would have seen no reduction in their property tax bills if SB 2 had been in effect this year.
“The supporters of SB 2 constantly talk about older Texans being taxed out of their homes, but they are pushing through a tax relief bill that gives the smallest tax breaks to homeowners who are over 65 years old,” Sandlin said. “Legislators are shamefully trying to deceive Texas homeowners into believing this is meaningful tax relief.”
“These numbers show that city property taxes are not the problem and SB 2 is not the solution. If legislators are serious about reducing property taxes for homeowners, they will throw this bill out and start addressing the real cause of high property tax which is the state’s system of financing public education.”