With the passing of April 15th, tax filing season has come and gone for most individuals and families. With taxes being fresh on our minds, I felt it would be appropriate to update you on the most recent tax cuts passed by the Texas Legislature, and to cast an eye toward next session and the work being done to allow Texans to keep more their hard-earned money. Here is a tax-cut focused update from your State Capitol…
Update on Tax Legislation
While the Texas Legislature cannot reform the Internal Revenue Service or repeal federal tax laws, we do have a say in certain taxes, as well as fees, levied at the state level. In Austin, we continue to look for ways to make government run more efficiently, so that taxpayers, such as yourself, can keep more dollars in your bank account and not in the state’s coffers. As an example, during this last session, we passed legislation which permanently cut the state’s small business tax, or margins tax as it is commonly known, by 25%. This was a prudent move because, like many of my colleagues, I recognize that small businesses are the backbone of the Texas economy and know that these tax cuts would lead to job creation and economic growth across our great state. The Legislature also passed a constitutional amendment, which was approved by the voters this past November, which permanently increased the homestead exemption on property taxes from $15,000 to $25,000, resulting in over $1 billion in property tax savings around the state.
In addition to these changes, the Legislature also passed House Bill 7, which eliminated a $200 annual licensing fee from 16 different common occupations. This hidden tax was passed on to consumers of these services, and ultimately the burden was borne by all Texans. I believe these changes are a shining example of what government can do when the focus is on meeting our financial obligations, then returning any extra money to the tax payer, not on increasing the role and scope of government.
House Interim Charges: House Committee on Ways and Means
Over the course of the interim, the House Committee on Ways and Means, which oversees tax issues, will be looking at numerous ways to continue to streamline the state’s tax system and reduce the overall tax burden on Texas families. First, they will review the aspects of the property tax system that contribute to rising property tax levies. Included in this, they will examine whether or not the system allows taxpayers meaningful participation in determining local property tax rates. After this, the Committee will conduct a dynamic analysis of completely repealing the state’s business tax. This has the opportunity to provide significant tax relief on small business owners, and I am hopeful that serious headway can be made on this issue. Then, the Committee will review current law and policy regarding sales taxes on different segments of the state economy, and they will also work to improve the administrative hearings and judicial process for contested tax and fee cases.
On April 20th the mobile office will be at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett from 9:00am until 11:00am, and at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton from 1:30pm until 3:30pm. The mobile office will wrap up for the month of April at the San Augustine County Courthouse from 9:00am until 11:00am on April 27th.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. We look forward to the opportunity to hear your concerns and help you navigate state government. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762 or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.