AUSTIN (Covering Katy News) – Governor Greg Abbott announced his support last week for amending the Texas Constitution to ban a state personal income tax in Texas.
Gov. Abbott’s pronouncement follows a proposal by Rep. Mike Schofield (R-Katy, Cypress) in the last legislative session to amend the constitution to bar the state from imposing an income tax on Texans.
While Texas does not currently have a personal income tax, Gov. Abbott told a rally in McKinney that he wants to make sure it stays that way.
“Did you know that currently, the Texas Constitution allows an income tax to be imposed on Texans?” Abbott was quoted as asking the crowd. “I say it’s time we amend the Texas Constitution to eliminate the possibility of an income tax.”
Schofield filed House Joint Resolution 58 in the 2017 legislative session to explicitly prohibit a personal income tax by amending the constitution to make an income tax unconstitutional.
Schofield plans to file this legislation again in the 86th legislative session and looks forward to renewed support for this initiative. “Many people believe our current constitution bans the income tax. It does not” said Schofield. “It merely requires any statute enacted by the Legislature creating a personal income tax be voted on by the people. By shining a light on this issue, Gov. Abbott will help Texans prevent a tax on their income.”
Currently, the legislature could pass a bill imposing an income tax by a simple majority. The bill would then require a vote of the people before it could be implemented. A constitutional amendment banning an income tax would ensure that if a future legislature wants to impose the tax on Texans, it must first gain votes of two-thirds of each house before sending it to the people of Texas to approve or reject via constitutional amendment election.
“Amending the Texas Constitution requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of the legislature, then a vote of the people,” Schofield explained. “It is much harder to get a two-thirds vote than a bare majority. If we pass a constitutional amendment to ban the income tax, it will be much harder for a future legislature to tax the incomes of hard-working Texans.”
The Texas Public Policy Foundation noted that states without a personal income tax largely fared better income than states with an income tax in terms of growth in population, employment, and personal income.
According to Rep. Schofield, “Personal income taxes have been shown to slow economic growth. Texas has shown its strength against economic downturns and remains a magnet for business and innovation. But imposing an income tax would hamper the competitive edge that Texas has in attracting the best and brightest to bring their business and talents to Texas.”