Texas' Regressive Tax Regime

RECEIVED Wed., Aug. 22, 2012

Dear Editor,
    Texas is currently home to a regressive tax regime that asks poor people to pay a larger share of their income than the wealthy. For example, we all pay about 8% in sales taxes, regardless of our ability to pay. A person first starting out has nothing, yet has to buy everything (e.g., blankets, furniture, pots and pans). As that person earns more, the money isn't used just for buying things, it's to buy services – the salon, a carwash, an attorney, a cleaning crew – which aren't taxed. Instead, that person might buy a home, and then will have to pay property taxes.
    Taxes are the price we pay for admission to this society.
    Property taxes do increase each year. They buy us roads, schools, parks, and pedestrian bridges. They are an investment in our community, and (thankfully) more of our fair share is finding its way directly into our neighborhoods these days. Perhaps property taxes could be lower, but we would need to replace them with other funds. It is not a solution to simply cap property taxes where values are rising; this results in having fewer resources to invest in neighborhood infrastructure. Neighborhoods with rising valuations have more money to improve their own neighborhoods, and then the overage supports the needs of less valuable property. This is how we got pools, rec centers, and moon towers to begin with! If we could cap our property taxes on the Eastside, then what would stop someone from doing that in Circle C? All taxes are relative.
    I think it's important to recognize that we live on what used to be the frontier. We are constantly shaping it into something it wasn't before. And, as much as people want to be here now, they're as likely not to want to be here in the future. So, let's enjoy this place while we still have the chance.
Lonny Stern
Rosewood Neighborhood Contact Team
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