Austin Liberals Can't Afford the Taxes They Voted For

Texas is one of only seven states to not impose a state income tax on its inhabitants. While Texas has helped codify the state’s reputation for having low taxes, they can be extremely high for certain types of people. This is generally because the state has to make up for a lack of income tax revenue, which has resulted in very heavy property and sales taxes.  

A study by Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy found that while Texas has the tenth lowest tax rate in the country, the state’s poorest 20 percent of taxpayers have the 6th highest tax bill in the country. In addition, residents pay 13 percent above the national average in their property and sales taxes. 

“Texas’ reputation as a ‘low state’ is accurate for wealthy households, it bears little resemblance to reality for the state’s less affluent residents...Those making under $11,400 a year actually face the 6th highest state and local tax bill in the entire country, at 12.6 percent of income.” 

Despite Texas’ deceptively high tax rate, many in the historically liberal city of Austin never miss an opportunity to raise their own taxes. A habit that has come back to haunt many of them today. 

“I have voted for every park, every library, all the school improvements, for light rail, for anything that will make this city better. But now I can’t afford to live here anymore,” said Austin artist Gretchen Gardner to Austin American Statesman reporters. 

Gardner, who purchase a 1930s bungalow in downtown Austin has seen her tax bill jump up to $8,500 this year. 

“I’m at the breaking point...I’ll protest my appraisal notice, but that’s not enough. Someone needs to step in and address the big picture.” 

According to Statesman reporters, Gardner is not the only Austinite watching in despair as their property values soar to unaffordable amounts. Average market values for homes have risen 12.6 percent for 2014 meaning an 8 percent rise in taxable value. 

Follow Patrick Kane on Twitter @PatVKane


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