FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Would you be willing to raise your county’s sales tax in exchange for lowering your county’s portion of your property tax bill?
Republican State Representative Charlie Geren of Fort Worth has proposed a bill in Austin, that if approved, would allow any of the state’s 254 counties and their residents to do just that.
“It would actually be a property tax reduction, not just reform,” said Rep. Geren.
Homeowner Bob Payne says he supports the idea. “We definitely need a little relief on the property taxes because they have gotten pretty enormous.”
So if state lawmakers approve, county commissioners could vote to raise their county-wide sales tax by an extra penny, and in exchange, the county would lower its portion of property taxes by the same amount of money raised by the extra cent in sales tax.
If county commissioners give their okay, county residents would also have to vote to approve it.
Geren says the sales tax would be paid by more people — not just residents, but visitors too. “It’ll spread the burden over everyone, and in Tarrant County, with AT&T Stadium and TCU, we’re blessed with a lot of out of county people who come into Tarrant County.”
Tarrant County Judge Glenn Whitley says he supports the idea.
Whitley says past estimates have shown an extra penny of sales tax in Tarrant County alone could raise $225 million per year, which could lead to a 60 to 70 percent drop in the county’s portion of property taxes.
Geren says the Texas Comptroller is now studying his bill to see how much sales tax money it could raise.
Each county could have a different impact.
Paul Guajardo, a renter, doesn’t pay property taxes directly, and says he doesn’t mind paying a higher sales tax — as long as county leaders promise not to change course.
“Just as long as it’s dedicated for that purpose and not seen simply as an additional source of revenue, but to replace these increases in property taxes,” said Guarjardo.
If county leaders or voters don’t approve of the idea, then Geren says individual cities and their residents could consider it.
But if they approve, the sales tax hike and property tax reduction would be within only that specific city.