Monday, August 8, 2016


The no new tax motto by politicians is hurting home-owning Texans.  The fear of runaway taxation stoked by conservative politicians has led to a stupid tax policy in our state.  More accurately, it has led to no tax policy in our state.  Our legislature continues to lurch from crisis to crisis and claiming no new taxes while elevating our fees on everything possible.  The latest is a substantial increase in our car registration. 

The word “taxes” has been elevated—or lowered—to the level of a swear word.  As a result, few, if any, of those seeking office will even say the word.  The big lie following grandiose promises of politicians as to where the money will come from is that we will glean it by reducing waste.  Unfortunately, the most recent waste in Texas—as viewed by our elected members of the Legislature—happens to be at the expense of our children.

We live in a changing world.  Life itself is dynamic.  States change, technology changes, populations change and human needs change.  Therefore, why shouldn’t tax policy be one of change?

Democracy works best when our leaders offer new ideas, debate whether or not old ones are still valid and discuss and share with the public where it is we should be headed.  Unfortunately, taxation in Texas has never enjoyed any rational or considered study.  Our school mess is a prime example of why the lack of any vision or policy relative to taxation is hurtful to us all.  

The basic problem with school finance is that it is unwieldy, grossly unfair and does not provide an adequate amount for the state to meet its constitutional duty of an efficient system of public education for all.  Because our legislature has failed to provide an adequate amount of funding to support public schools, in oly 20 years Texas’ homeowners taxation has gone from near the bottom to second or third from the top of all states of the union.  Our public debt has exploded to the point that Texas’ taxpayers face a mountain of debt at both the state and local level. Because schools are now so dependent on the property tax, we continue to struggle with its inadequacy and unfairness.  Patrons of one school district can produce with a minimal tax effort thousands of dollars per student while the school district next door struggles with the maximum effort on taxes and can raise only a small portion of what their neighboring rich district can acquire.

If all property in Texas were taxed the same, we would not only have a fair tax but the tax on our homes and small businesses would also be much lower.  We would also do away with the continual lawsuits at the state level over school finance.  Unfortunately, we, the taxpayers, along with our elected state leaders and legislators, rushed to repeal the constitutional state property tax several years ago. Regrettably, that delivered scant benefits to the ordinary homeowners in Texas and large benefits to huge property owners.

Texas leads among the states in population growth with fewer, if any, forms of tax which match our growth.  The sales tax may be the exception, but it hits the poor and middle class hardest.

An income tax is generally regarded by Texas taxpayers as an instrument of the devil, and rejected out of hand with little or no discussion.  In-depth studies of the income tax, however, reveal the average homeowner or small business owner would fare much better with it than having to tolerate the ever-increasing property taxes on our homes or businesses.  An income tax as a revenue source would be more fair, more productive and able to keep pace with the changing needs of our state.  The ever-escalating tax on our homes is a tax on most of our most valuable possessions and continues after our productive years are long since in the past. 

While pondering our state’s budget and hopefully our taxation policy, we can only hope and pray our elected leaders will get their heads out of the sand and adopt IBM’s old motto: “THINK!”

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