While touting the low cost of doing business in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott acknowledged the state property tax burden is unequally distributed between commercial and residential property owners.
During a Tuesday press conference among business leaders in Richland Hills, Abbott pledged to continue ensuring Texas is friendly to business. Abbott was joined by state Sen. Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills and Stephanie Kilck of Fort Worth at Advanced Chemical Logistics.
“That includes doing things like what we have done, and that is to slash regulations and red tape, cut property taxes every year that I’ve been in session as governor,” he said.
As a result, “Texas ranks No. 1 in America for the lowest cost of doing business.”
Tarrant County home owners might be surprised to hear Abbott’s claim that property taxes have been cut during his gubernatorial tenure.
This year alone, residential property values rose about 20%, estimated Tarrant County Chief Appraiser Jeff Law.
In fact, property taxes have risen 20% since 2017, the Texas Tribune reported in April.
At the same time, the state loses $26 billion of taxable property each year when commercial property owners sue appraisal districts to lower their property values, said appraisers at the Texas Association of Appraisal Districts.
For example, Walmart’s 37 Tarrant County stores that have been open at least five years decreased in value on average between 2017 and 2021, according to a Star-Telegram analysis of Tarrant Appraisal District records.
Meanwhile, Tarrant County property values have risen 51% since 2017.
“That disparity needs to be fixed,” Abbott said, when asked about the unequal property tax burden between commercial and residential property owners.
But his plan to reduce property taxes does not address this inequity.
He proposes to reduce property taxes by applying the state’s budget surplus to school funding, which represents the largest chunk of property tax bills.
“What I propose doing is buying down the maintenance and operation component of the school property tax bill until it gets to zero, and that will be a permanent reduction of the largest component of your property tax bill,” he said Tuesday.
Abbott’s “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” also proposes an exemption for small businesses of up to $100,000 of business personal property and requires local taxing entities to get two-thirds voter approval to increase debt.
Abbott’s opponent in the race for Texas governor, Democrat Beto O’Rourke has identified this disparity as central to his plan for reducing property taxes.
“Most homeowners cannot afford the lobbyists or the attorneys that can contest corporate valuations. And so corporate property owners are able to bring down their bills by billions of dollars every single year,” O’Rourke said during a visit to Dallas last month..
He pledged to require commercial property tax disclosure, which experts argue would help appraisers more accurately value commercial property.