It’s a reality many Hays County residents already know too well – Texans are some of the highest paying property tax payers in the nation.
A recent study conducted by WalletHub ranked Texas as the 7th highest in the nation when it came to the amount of property taxes paid by its residents.
According to the study, Texans pay around $2,775 in property taxes per year, which is based on the median home value of $151,000.
Jill Gonzalez, analyst at WalletHub, said states that don’t have a dedicated income tax, such as Texas, must increase property taxes to fund necessary things such as salaries for government employees, public schools and infrastructure.
Although Texas’ property taxes are high, the median home value in Texas is lower than the national average of $193,500. But, in Hays County, as prices of homes continue to increase, so does the amount of property taxes.
Compared to states like Alabama and West Virginia, where citizens play around $550 in property taxes annually, Texans are paying more than their neighboring states.
Worries about rising property tax bills, however, is driving state legislators to find a way to fix the issue, much to the consternation of local leaders.
Property Tax reform heads to the state
Mayors didn’t shy away Feb. 25 from voicing dissent about a pair of controversial bills that could cap how much their cities can increase property tax rates.
The controversial set of bills, Senate Bill and House Bill 2, would require cities, counties and school districts to hold an election if they seek to raise ad valorem rates more than 2.5 percent from the previous year.
The proposal would not affect taxing units that do not collect more than $15 million in revenue, but that isn’t stopping smaller municipalities from weighing in on the discussion.
Buda Mayor George Haehn criticized the bill during a Ways and Means Committee hearing, saying it doesn’t alleviate rising property values nor does it allow cities to act with local control.
Haehn worried tax caps could give complete control to the state and not the cities.
State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), chairperson of the committee, asked Haehn if he was against rollback rates. Burrows argued the cap would keep property tax rates from going through the roof.
Haehn said he was not against roll back taxes in its entirety but said the proposed cap was “not prudent.”
Haehn said the 2.5 percent cap would prevent a city from raising funds needed immediately because there would not be enough time to go before voters for the increase. This need for immediate funds could include local natural disasters or emergencies.
“I don’t like the concept of the state coming in and taking local control and giving it to you,” Haehn said. “What you’re trying to do is take local control away from those who are elected to make the tough decisions at the point in time where I have to make them.”
Current state law allows residents to petition for an election if cities seek to raise property tax rates that generates an eight percent revenue increase from the previous year.
But Haehn said those city leaders who have made it to that eight percent threshold are irresponsible and probably were voted out of office.
For now, rising property taxes is still at the forefront of concerns for most Texans and Americans. According to the National Tax Lien Association, more than $14 billion in property taxes go unpaid each year.
“Depending on the state you live in, these taxes can be either a small inconvenience or a major burden,” Gonzalez said. “And this affects everyone, as both owners and renters pay property taxes, directly or indirectly.”