The Property Tax War in Texas

American’s are not great at understanding the point of Taxes and it shows in this war that is taking place between two sides that say that property sales should be disclosed and the other side saying that there should be privacy between owners when property is sold. Currently Texas is a nondisclosure state where owners do not have to give the price for which the property was sold for. This makes it difficult to accurately assess property values because no information is given, and the owners that do voluntarily provide are not enough for there to be a valid database of information in which to assess accurate and current land value.

In any political fight there will always be mudslinging and while I did my research for this article I noticed that both sides truly believed they were in the right, so no surprise there. What made it difficult to deal with was the amount of “values” they force on to their followers in order to continue with their campaign. In essence they were saying, if you believe in our values, beliefs, then you already should know that what we are doing is the right thing and in order to back up their view they showed other people who feel the same way by posting videos online of people showing their support.

Social Influence is a great thing when it is used correctly but not when it is used to take advantage of people’s understanding about the whole situation. I do want people to understand that when you read and watch their promotional videos beware of the influence effect it has on your decision making process. Be aware of how statistics are complied and used, be careful with their wording, and always, always, understanding the person’s background on who was writing the article, if you can. This will tell you a lot about how much to believe and follow.

Understanding Property Taxes
It always amazes me when I hear people talk about taxes being a bad thing. They think that when they pay less taxes they get to keep more of their money. Then I hear the same people talk about how schools don’t get the funding they need to improve education and then they blame all these political parties and individuals but they don’t realize that the mistake lies in their understanding of taxes in general. I wrote an article about this so if you want to learn more about why it’s important to pay taxes and why we should be paying more, then read this article I wrote. The same situation is happening in local areas. I will say that the Real Values for Texas made a good video on what taxes are used for so that is a positive for them but just beware of where it starts to becomes one sided.

Here is the basic idea, whenever a company wants to move into an area the community leaders are quick to point out to local residents all the benefits that a company would get if they decided to build there. One of the two “benefits” that are quick to be talked about is the number of jobs it will create for the area and how much in tax “benefits” (translation – Cuts) they are to receive. What people don’t seem to get is that someone still has to pay for all those tax cuts. They don’t just magically disappear, and they don’t just get taken off the books. The higher the tax cuts, the more the community will pay in order for that company to move in and provide jobs. So if you really look at it right, you will see that the people who do land jobs at the very company offering work in their area will actually be paying for those taxes breaks through indirect means, so that salary package of 60K is actually less, but no one is going to tell you that, otherwise you would have voted NOT to bring the company here in the first place. But who would do such a thing?

The same thing happened when Apple decided to build in Austin. One of the big pushes that Austin leaders wanted was for Apple to hire majority of their staff from Austin, or the local area, but Apple resisted, so the city relented and Apple got its tax breaks and the privilege to hire anyone from any region. So all those jobs they hoped to create were smoke and mirrors used to entice people to think letting Apple move in was a good idea. Infact, most of the jobs created from their expansion will be just for sales and administration. Very few will actually be for hardware design. It’s only good if you actually got a job with them that pays nicely for your annual luxury vacations, oh and the rise in property taxes, that you will get to enjoy for the next 10 years.

Two Sided Argument
The reason this issue is heating up is there is a bill in place from Real Values for Texas that would make Texas a mandatory disclosure state. This would mean business and home owners would need to disclose the price of their property for which it was bought or sold for. Currently all that information is voluntary to provide in public records.

Real Values for Texas states that businesses are not paying their fair share of taxes and when that happens, homeowners have to pick up the slack.

The Coalition for Uniform and Equal Taxation state that because more and more homeowners are buying properties, this is what is causing the value of property taxes to go up including jobs cuts in certain industries, not because local businesses are not paying their fair share of taxes.

Just based off of that information, which side do you think has the right of way? Yea, you realize you still need more information. The first side shows the growing power coming from homeowners who say that they are tired of having to pay higher property taxes every year because businesses have the power to find loopholes in paying less. This disclosure would help show what businesses are paying. The other side, which is mostly composed of businesses, say that rising taxes is just part of a healthy growing economy and that there is already a fair tax appraisal system in place. The current system in place would help businesses keep their transactions private.

Business Hardships
Running is a company is not an easy gig and when you have situations like these taking place, it can get harder to handle the political pressure to deal with it. This is why many companies have formed alliances with organizations that help protect their interests. It’s a funny thing when you look at it, people get mad at companies when they don’t provide enough jobs for them to work in, but then they go around and complain that they are not paying their fair share of taxes because they have learned to find the loopholes in the tax system that allow them that option. Homeowners have the same privilege to find those loopholes the only problem is that most are not legal experts on property taxes and most would have no idea where to start the process and on top of all that they don’t have the time to dedicate to filling out just one form in the whole process.

A company’s only concern when running a business (here comes the truth so get ready) is to make a profit and to keep costs low. Anything outside of that mission is because the company wants to, not because they have to. You can begin to understand why companies would form on one side of this situation and homeowners on the other. Businesses don’t want mandatory disclosure because it would make future transactions harder to deal with when owners can look back at their past dealings and see what they have been paying for on past properties. Of course, in other states that do have mandatory disclosure rules, it is already easy to see what companies are paying for, so the argument that it would violate privacy rights is thrown right out the window. But don’t tell that to the organizations lobbying for businesses, (whispers) they might get mad that you know that (Shhh).

When I wrote about how companies are trying to avoid paying taxes by inverting you can see how powerful an effect taxes can have on a company. A company’s only responsibility is to their stockholders and meeting their quarter forecasts. The benefit people get from businesses is that they get to work. The communities that benefit from people working, which means money spent in the local economy, helps improve conditions. The only thing is that when companies do try to lower taxes, it takes away from systems that rely heavily on taxes, especially schools, colleges, public services, and lots more. The same is said when homeowners try to lower their taxes as well, which a lot of rich people do because they have the money to spend on lawyers to do it for them.

As you can see, both sides are guilty of trying the same thing so it will be very interesting to see how all this turns out. So for the whole state of Texas, please make sure to do your homework, research both sides, and listen carefully to their arguments and statistics they throw at you. Remember the end result is that everyone pays their fair share of taxes…..oops, wait, no one has done that in years. Oh well.


News Articles

Opposing Organizations battle over mandatory sales price disclosure (Read First and Watch Video)

Real Values for Texas

Property Taxes 101 taught by Real Values for Texas

Local Government for Property Tax Reform (Real Values for Texas article)

 Video on Taxes (Real Values for Texas)

Homeowners Pay Extra Property Taxes

Texans to fight to keep sales prices of land, homes, and offices private

Coalition for Equal and Uniform Taxation

Coalition for Equal and Uniform Taxation (CEUT) Formed to Protect Equal and Uniform Taxation Guaranteed by Texas Constitution

CEUT Myths vs Facts about Property Taxes

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