Texas lawmakers are clashing over how to cut property taxes.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Texas Senate, and House Speaker Dade Phelan, both Republicans, favor reducing property taxes and increasing exemptions, but the Senate’s $16.5 billion proposal is a whopping half billion cheaper than the House’s, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The good news: both bodies agree on increasing the homestead tax exemption from $40,000 to $70,000. Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a Republican from Houston, referred to the homestead exemption as “the most powerful tool you can use,” the outlet reported.
The proposed property tax cuts are in three bills — one cuts taxes on homeowners, another reduces taxes for businesses, and the last one lowers taxes on inventory and property.
“What we have is tremendously good news for Texas taxpayers today,” Bettencourt said at a news conference. “These are eye-popping, off-the-chart numbers of savings that they can realize through the Senate plan.”
In addition to the homestead exemption, the Senate proposed raising the exemption for seniors from $10,000 to $30,000. Homeowners 65 or older could see $516 slashed from their property tax bills, while those younger may see a $324 reduction, the outlet said.
The House’s proposal included lowering the cap on homestead appraisals from 10 percent to 5 percent. Patrick pushed back on that, saying it would flatten appraisal rates for certain homes and businesses that would steadily climb in value otherwise.
Opponents of the House’s proposal believe these policies would create an inequitable tax system that favors the elderly and places a burden on first-time home buyers. Dale Craymer, president of Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, said caps “create substantial inequities across taxpayers depending on when title to the property was changed,” the outlet reported.