While Attorney General Ken Paxton challenges Austin’s bid to dismantle Texas’ property tax law, a think tank wants to replace it with a reformed sales tax.
The Democrat-controlled city alleges commercial and vacant land throughout Travis County is under-appraised.
“The city of Austin has made it clear they want one thing and one thing only – more tax revenue,” Paxton, a Republican, countered in a court filing Thursday. “Austin’s plan would expose every property owner in Austin, and ultimately all of Texas, to the potential of higher property taxes,” he said.
“The goal is to increase property taxes paid by businesses so Austin can continue its profligate spending without further antagonizing residential property owners, who vote,” said Mark Pulliam, a local attorney and commentator.
“It is a cynical ploy. The AG sees through it.”
On Friday, the market-oriented Texas Public Policy Foundation proposed swapping the property tax for a re-engineered sales tax.
“Right now, Texas homeowners and businesses struggle with the 14th worst property tax system in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation’s latest national rankings. It’s critical that we begin to think outside the box when it comes to reforming the system,” said James Quintero, director of TPPF’s Center for Local Governance.
“The only path that allows Texans the freedom to own property, save tax dollars over time, and contribute to substantially more job creation and economic growth is by eliminating local property taxes and replacing lost revenue with a reformed sales tax,” said TPPF economist Vance Ginn.
Meantime, the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association told Watchdog.org that Paxton is “right to be concerned about how the Austin lawsuit impacts homeowners.”
“The city claims it is targeting commercial property owners when it asks the courts to take away certain taxpayer rights. In fact, those rights belong to all taxpayers, including homeowners, and if the city is successful, all property owners will lose,” said TTRA President Dale Craymer.
Kenric Ward writes for the Texas Bureau of Watchdog.org. Contact him at [email protected].