How would long-awaited property tax relief plan affect East Texans?

SBs 2 and 3, passed by both Texas House and Senate, now head to Governor Abbott’s desk
How would long-awaited property tax relief plan affect East Texans?
Published: Jul. 13, 2023 at 7:02 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 13, 2023 at 7:12 PM CDT
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AUSTIN, Texas (KLTV) - The property tax relief plan expected to be on Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk by the end of this week would save Texas property owners an average of $1,300 a year, according to the Senate bill’s author.

Among ways lawmakers will achieve this is by raising the state’s homestead exemption.

“The first $40,000 in value, you don’t pay taxes on that,” said State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola). “That is being raised to $100,000.”

Those over 65, whose property taxes are frozen, would also find relief, with their exemption amount raised to $110,000.

“Part of the package we’re passing will allow those taxes to be unfrozen and lowered with that new homestead exemption and frozen again at the lower amount,” Hughes said.

The package would also send billions of dollars to Texas school districts, under the agreement that districts lower their property taxes.

“This is less a property tax cut than it is a redistribution of our obligation to pay for public education,” said State Sen. Sarah Eckhardt (D-Austin).

On the Senate floor Wednesday, Eckhardt voted for the plan in hopes that the state will pay its fair share to districts, even after the record surplus is gone.

“We have school districts that are running multi-million-dollar deficits right now just to try and keep their classrooms staffed. And, while this tax compression is going to be beneficial to some homeowners, it is not going to solve the problem of school funding,” said Mark Wiggins, senior lobbyist for the Association of Texas Professional Educators.

Among the things some lawmakers wanted out of the package but didn’t get was targeted relief for renters, although those pushing the bill through say renters will get relief by way of their landlords, whose taxes will be lowered. Others argue that’s not what determines rising rent prices and point to demand as the cause.

Republican lawmakers, like Sen. Hughes, believe this package will ultimately make it easier for renters to become homeowners.

“By bringing that homestead exemption up and bringing all property taxes down, let’s make it easier for more people to own their home and not have to rent that’s the goal. That’s what we’re pushing for,” Hughes said.

On Thursday night, the Texas House passed the property tax relief plan. State bills 2 and 3 will now head to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk.