Economists Say Lawmakers Used Misleading Numbers to Argue for Property Tax Caps

Legislators used a fallacious chart comparing increases in property taxes to median household income at a recent hearing.

By Alain StephensFebruary 1, 2017 8:03 am

Texas Republicans are leading an effort to cap local property taxes. While it’s easy to get Texans riled up about taxes, it’s a whole lot easier if you’re using fake numbers. David McSwane, with the Dallas Morning News, suggests that’s exactly what a group of lawmakers did at capitol hearings “designed to foment anger about property tax bills.”

McSwane says that a chart used by lawmakers, comparing property taxes with median income, is misleading because of the metrics used.

“That comparison is conflating two different things, the growth of the median household income – the family in the middle of all Texas incomes – against total property tax levied – all the taxes collected by all the local taxes authorities,” McSwane says. “The chart showed a chasm between the two.”

He says economists called the comparison nonsense.

“Expert economists we talked to said that’s really an apples to oranges comparison,” McSwane says. “That really is meaningless.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– Economists’ recommendations for evaluating property taxes compared to median income

– Why legislators want to measure tax increases in this way

Written by Emma Whalen.