Texas

Can everyday Texans still afford their property taxes?

An image of a home by 'Inspiration de' via Unsplash

Property taxes are a perennial issue here in Texas.

And some GOP lawmakers like it that way.

Houston Republican Sen. Paul Bettencourt is leading group of lawmakers who want to limit the power of local governments to control funding for basic services through property taxes.

The problem is that the senators are supporting their bill by falsely claiming that property taxes are rising at nearly three times the rate of Texans’ incomes.

How did they come to this conclusion? Well… here’s a chart.

A misleading tax chart showing the Texas tax levy as a share of median household income.

A misleading tax chart showing the Texas tax levy as a share of median household income.

Alarming indeed.

However, the strange thing is that the chart compares aggregate local tax revenues to median household incomes.

The Dallas Morning News has an extensive look at why this wrongheaded, but the point is this: for the data to be meaningful, you need to compare a median with another median, or an aggregate with another aggregate.

Once you do that, the chart looks more like this:

A chart showing Texas property taxes compared to household income.

A chart showing Texas property taxes compared to household income.

Now, I’m not going to speculate why Bettencourt & crew are using misleading data to advocate for property tax limits that could ultimately benefit large corporations in addition to everyday Texans… but we can say that this bill is probably not motivated by everyday Texans suddenly feeling the pinch of stagnant property tax levels.

More: The Dallas Morning News, “Misleading stats fuel Republicans’ effort to cap local property taxes,” Jan. 30, 2017.

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