Boiling It Down: Property Taxes

This week, you likely drove on local roads, maybe dropped your child off at a public school, and passed a hospital, fire station, police department, and library somewhere along the way. Chances are you didn’t stop to think about how all these things are possible because of public investments that make our communities stronger—yet when you got your property tax bill this month, you might have felt like grumbling.

Those thousands of dollars can add up quickly. They put a real pinch on most families. While we love our communities, paying for them this way can feel like a strain. During those weak moments, when we are loving our neighborhoods but hating pulling out our checkbooks, we are particularly vulnerable to messages about cutting taxes, aren’t we?

What’s important to know, particularly when you hear talk of cutting taxes at the state level, is that most of the taxes proposed for cuts aren’t ones you pay. Often, when Texas state leaders push for “cutting taxes,” it leads to two things, neither of them good for families:

  1. reductions in services we count on, like public schools and children’s hospitals;
  2. a hike in property taxes.
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You read that right. Rising property taxes happen in part because Texas, one of only a handful of states without an income tax, likes to pass the buck on funding local community services. When the state cuts taxes, often for one special interest group or another, we have less revenue for our state budget, which helps fund things like schools and hospitals. That results in fewer state dollars to offset our local costs—leaving local school districts, health districts, and cities to foot more of the bill with property taxes, just to maintain quality of life in their community. It’s a losing scenario.

So this month as you stare down that big check, take solace in the fact that you are helping fund many of the things that you rely on and love in your community, but also consider giving your legislators a call. Ask them to make sure Texas’s big businesses pay their fair share and invest in our communities, too.

Are there issues like this affecting your family you’d like to have explained? Let the Mommy Mob crew know. We’ll investigate the answers, and boil down what we learn.

Written by: Eileen Garcia, chief executive officer of Texans Care for Children.


About Christine Sinatra 53 Articles
Christine Sinatra is the communications director for Texans Care for Children and mom to a kindergartener. Her past experience includes working as a reporter for the Austin American-Statesman and the Oakland Tribune company, being a Peace Corps volunteer for high school girls in Africa, and studying at UT’s LBJ School of Public Affairs.

4 Comments on Boiling It Down: Property Taxes

  1. I love this post.

    We lived in Nevada before moving to Austin, and it was pathetic how cry-baby people were there about taxes, and then how angry-baby they were about things like schools not opening on time because of no money, or understocked libraries, or insufficiently maintained roads.

    It’s very simple: you get what you pay for, and those who have more need to pay more.

    I may not like money going out the door, but our family does well and should have to pay more.

    This is how the rest of the grown-up world operates. We all need to be grown-ups and pay our taxes, each according to their means.

  2. Thanks for this! How about a rundown on the local election. I’m always scrambling at the last minute (like on my way out to vote) to figure out who and what I’m voting for.

  3. Instead of worrying about getting corporate sponsors for schoolbuses, we should look around for the nominal amount of funds to add to existing signs (street signs, signs on highways where traffic sits, etc.) that say something like “Funded with taxpayer money.”

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