Bonnen Says: Texans Need Understandable Tax Info to Hold Local Leaders Accountable

Property Taxpayer Act makes Local Property Taxes Clearer & Transparent

Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas — “Our property tax system is needlessly confusing, and discourages citizens who are tired of ever-increasing property taxes from taking a role in the local rate-setting process. But Texans must take a more active role at the local level, where appraisals and tax rates are set,” said Texas State Rep. Dennis Bonnen (right, R-Angleton,) while filing the Property Taxpayer Empowerment Act (House Bill 15) to help Texans hold local governments accountable for setting property tax rates.

Unlike statewide Sales & Business Franchise Taxes, property tax rates are not set by the Texas Legislature, but by local Cities, Counties, School Districts, and other various Special Taxing Districts.

Under Bonnen’s bill, every Texas property owner will be able to see just how much each jurisdiction’s tax rate affects their individual tax bill, along with detailed information about how they can make their voices heard within the local rate-setting process.

“Government only works when citizens can hold their leaders accountable, and accountability begins with transparency,” said Bonnen, who is chairman of the powerful Ways & Means tax-writing Committee in the Texas House of Representatives.

The Property Taxpayer Empowerment Act will give Texans the information and clarity they need to hold local leaders accountable for their tax bill.”

With so many entities setting different rates each year, Bonnen said he and other House Members had heard more than enough evidence regarding how difficult it is for taxpayers to determine why their tax bills keep increasing. House Bill 15 would help taxpayers focus on the number that matters most – the tax rate set by each of their local taxing entities, members said.

The legislation would:

  • Require Local Governments to Publish annually their “No New Taxes Rate,” which is the rate that would raise the same amount of money as the previous year. When appraisals increase, the No New Taxes Rate decreases.
  • Create a Searchable Statewide Database that gives taxpayers the information they need to hold local officials accountable.  Every property owner will be able to see how each jurisdiction’s proposed tax rates will directly affect their individual tax bill, along with detailed information about how they can make their voices heard in the local rate-setting process.
  • Remove the Misleading “Estimate of Tax Due” on appraisal notices. This figure is based on applying last year’s tax rate to this year’s appraisal, which is confusing and inaccurate.
  • Restrict Debt Service Taxes to only debt that has been approved by voters.
  • Reduce the Maximum Increase in Taxes from 8% to 4%.
  • Make Property Tax Rollback Elections Automatic after a government taxing unit proposes a rate that exceeds the rollback rate, no longer requiring citizens to gather signatures to petition for a rollback election.

The Property Taxpayer Empowerment Act will give them the transparency, and tools they need to hold local officials accountable,” Bonnen said.

Bonnen also serves as the Texas House of Representatives Speaker Pro Tempore, a distinguished position that calls for him to preside over House proceedings in the Speaker’s absence.

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