Rep. Jared Patterson Backs Senate Bill 2, the Texas Taxpayer Transparency Act of 2019

May 1, 2019

On Wednesday, May 1, Rep. Jared Patterson – a Senate Bill 2 cosponsor – joined his Texas House colleagues in giving final approval to the session’s major property tax reform legislation. The bill provides critical transparency mechanisms that empower taxpayers and voters with a say in the property tax rate-setting process, and ratchets down rollback rates for the vast majority of Texas taxing units.

Texans pay some of the highest property taxes in the United States, according to the non-partisan Tax Foundation. The burden is especially heavy in fast-growing areas like Denton County, where taxable values on single family homes have jumped 60% since 2009. Growth in property tax levies – the actual amount of property taxes owed – has outstripped growth in household median income over the past decade.

Senate Bill 2 gives property owners the tools they need to make informed decisions about their property taxes by disclosing online and on tax notices which taxing units are proposing a tax increase, by how much, and when and where they can go to make their voice heard at a public hearing. The notices will demonstrate how much more property owners will be paying in a given year – a number that can increase, sometimes substantially, even if a taxing unit doesn’t raise rates. Rising appraised values can increase a resident’s tax liability while rates stay stagnant.

Critically, the legislation lowers the rollback rate for most taxing units from 8% to 3.5%. If a tax unit wants to raise 3.5% more revenue than the previous year, they would be required to seek voter approval for the increase in an automatic election. The rate for school districts is 2%.

“SB 2 will empower citizens to take control of their property tax bills, and cut through the tax jargon to answer two simple questions – am I paying more in property taxes than last year, regardless of the adopted rate, and if so which entity is responsible?” said Rep. Patterson. “A more open process is beneficial to everyone, and taxpayers deserve every opportunity to weigh in directly on how their taxes are being raised and spent. Last session, the Legislature was unable to come together around a 4% rollback rate. SB 2 is a testament to the power of new House leadership, and I thank Speaker Bonnen and Chairman Burrows for their dedication to property tax reform.”

The legislation as amended in the House also includes provisions for cities like Frisco and Plano which provide homestead exemptions for residents. Part of the value of these exemptions would be factored into the calculations done before a city is required to hold a rollback election.

Elected in November, Patterson’s district encompasses eastern Denton County. Rep. Patterson serves on the Business & Industry, Urban Affairs, and Resolutions Calendars committees. His family resides in Frisco.