Texas House and Senate reach deal on $18 billion property tax cut package

The agreement, which could pass the Legislature by the end of the week, includes a $100,000 homestead exemption and a pilot project to limit appraisal growth to 20% on non-homesteaded properties worth $5 million or less.

By Andrew Schneider, Houston Public MediaJuly 10, 2023 3:51 pm, ,

From Houston Public Media:

State lawmakers have reached agreement on an $18 billion deal to cut property taxes, a record for Texas. The package could pass the Legislature by the end of the week.

More than $12 billion would go towards reducing the school property tax rate for all homeowners and business properties. The deal includes a major demand of the Senate: a $100,000 homestead exemption.

“It’s going to be an average $1,373 for all 5.72 million homeowners and $1,450 or more for over 65s,” said state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, one of the architects of the deal. “It’s stunning, off-the-charts, eye-popping savings.”

Bettencourt said the homestead exemption would not affect state funding for public schools. “There’s $642 million worth of debt relief for school districts,” he said. “Basically, what it means is that when you pay the homestead exemption, the state pays it, we have a hold harmless (provision) for the school districts.”

The package will also include several items the House had sought, among them a so-called circuit breaker that would limit the growth of tax bills for non-homesteaded properties, both residential and commercial, to no more than 20 percent. Separate legislation would also provide savings on the franchise tax for small businesses.

“Reducing property taxes, providing relief to small business owners, and reforming our appraisal system will ensure economic growth and prosperity, and this agreement is a significant victory for all Texans,” said House Speaker Dade Phelan in a statement announcing the deal.

The package also includes a provision that will increase voters’ input on local property tax appraisal boards. “We’ve got a novel solution, first time ever, of electing three citizens countywide in May 2024 for all counties that have populations of 75,000 or greater,” Bettencourt said.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released his own statement thanking all 31 senators for their contributions and singling out Bettencourt and Phelan for praise.

“Speaker Phelan and I worked diligently over the last week on the final bill,” Patrick said. “It made the difference. It may have taken overtime, but the process has produced a great bill for homeowners and businesses.”

The Senate will take the lead on crafting the relevant bills, while the House will craft a joint resolution calling for a constitutional amendment. Voters will need to approve the amendment in November for the tax cuts to become law.

“The good news is the tax bills are going to go out like this was passed,” Bettencourt said. “So, this initial whopping $100,000 homestead exemption is going to be good for this year, and the tax rate reduction is going to be good for this year, and folks will see it on their bill as they go to vote on November 7.”

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement saying he looks forward to signing the legislation when it reaches his desk.

“I promised during my campaign that the state would return to property taxpayers at least half of the largest budget surplus we’ve ever had,” Abbott said. “Today’s agreement between the House and the Senate is a step toward delivering on that promise.”

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