Senator Bettencourt Files Package of Property Tax Reform Legislation On Wide Array of Taxpayer Issues

Houston, TX – Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), current Chair of the Local Government, and past chair of former Senate Property Tax in the 86th session, filed a package of Property Tax bills to address taxpayer issues including uniformity of bond elections, transparency, business personal property value, disaster declaration loopholes for taxpayers, plus job creation.

During COVID-19 taxing entities around Texas tried to increase property taxes due to the disaster declaration in SB 2 issued by Governor Abbott. At that time, AG Ken Paxton issued a opinion that said HB492 disaster provision only applied to physical damages. SB 1427, adds “epidemic” as another prohibition to the statute on increasing property tax rates and requiring the damages to be physical and not because of an economic downturn like the COVID pandemic.

“The disaster provisions provided for in SB 2 and HB 492 from the 86th session were meant to aid taxing entities when they sustained physical property damage from a disaster like a hurricane, flood, or a tornado.” said Senator Bettencourt. “Unfortunately, there were a number of taxing entities that attempted to use the pandemic to increase their taxpayers property tax bills at the worst possible time!” he added.

An Additional 4 bills would make the following changes to create greater uniformity and fairness for Texas Taxpayers:

  • SB 1426 requires that all elections related to the approval of the issuance of bonds or other debt be held on the November uniform election date, except for certain emergency elections. “It is time to end the ‘dog days of summer’ elections to a uniform date that will ensure higher turnouts and more control from the voters.” he said.
  • SB 1430 standardizes forms & removes overly broad restrictions when submitting petitions, removes ambiguous statutory language and establishes a uniform process for citizen-driven referendums, & allows an objective review of ballot language before being put to voters.
  • SB 1432 limits eligibility of unemployment benefits for those that serve on the review board of a appraisal district
  • SB 1423 would require taxing entities to accept such prepayment throughout the year via an account similar to an escrow account to give property owners whose taxes are not paid via their mortgage more flexibility.

Another 3 bills would address the following changes related to tangible personal property:

  • SB 1449 increasing the minimum amount of tangible personal property that is exempt from rendition and assessment for property taxes from $500 to $2,500 ease the fiscal and administrative burden of the business personal property tax. “SB 1449 will save small business owners in Texas both their time and money.” concluded Senator Bettencourt.
  • SB 1421 allows an appraisal review board to change the appraisal roll or related appraisal records for the current tax year and for either of the two preceding tax years to correct an inaccuracy in the appraised value of the owner’s tangible personal property that is the result of an error or omission in a timely-filed rendition statement or property report. “Taxpayers should be allowed to correct errors on their rendition statements, just as they are allowed to correct errors on their tax returns.” added Bettencourt.
  • SB 1422 expends the timeframe for which a associated tangible property is allowed to be present in Texas prior to export, from current 175 days to 365 days, in order to qualify for an exemption. “That creates Texas jobs!” he said.