Latest School Property Tax Plan Would Increase Homestead Exemption, Might Forgo Sales Tax Increase

AUSTIN -- Texans would see lower school property taxes in two ways under a Senate plan unveiled Wednesday, provided that lawmakers pass a tax-swap bill that yields billions more to cut property levies more deeply.The homestead exemption on school districts' taxes would increase to $40,000, from $25,000.By 2021, schools would be required to shave 15 cents per $100 valuation off their main tax levy. Under a House-passed plan, it would go down only by a minimum 4 cents per $100 valuation.While House GOP leaders and Gov. Greg Abbott have touted adding a penny to the sales tax, the Senate's open to using "some other revenue source" to pay for lasting tax relief for homeowners and businesses, said Friendswood GOP Sen. Larry Taylor."It doesn't have to be a sales tax," said Taylor, who heads the chamber's Education Committee.On Wednesday, Taylor briefed all 31 senators on his revised school finance bill, which his panel will take up Thursday.Dallas Democratic Sen. Royce West said that the Senate still might seek an alternative to increasing the state's 6-1/4 percent sales tax by a penny."The question is should sales tax be on the table," said West, a member of the Education panel.Revenues from severance tax on oil and natural gas, and increases in some lesser taxes might be more palatable, he said. He did not elaborate.The House also has a tax-swap plan that would cut property taxes more deeply, though it hasn't moved out of committee.  Continue reading...

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