Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas cities, counties can't use coronavirus pandemic to justify property tax increases
Texas’ disaster declaration does not allow cities and counties to raise their tax rates beyond the state’s 3.5% cap without voter approval, Gov. Greg Abbott said in a Friday interview with KVUE, weighing into a political debate brewing between local and state officials.
A new law passed last year restricts local governments’ tax rate increases to 3.5%. But it also appears to let them bypass that cap in the case of a state or federal disaster declaration in their area.
The Texas Municipal League, which represents city governments, argues that Abbott’s disaster declaration due to coronavirus triggers that section of the property tax law. Cities can increase taxes by 8% and most will not need to hold an election to significantly raise taxes next year, if they are raising money to respond to the disaster, according to TML.
But Abbott said Friday that TML’s interpretation is incorrect. “I disagree and I think the Texas attorney general disagrees with that legal interpretation,” he said.
The statement was the clearest Abbott has been on the issue since it first came up in March, when he told reporters at a press conference he would look into it.
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