Seniors, Friends Hope Voters Say Yes on Tax Cut - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

05/07/07-Longview

Seniors, Friends Hope Voters Say Yes on Tax Cut

Most Texans don't even know early voting is on right now -- not for the presidential race -- but for a constitutional amendment in the state.  Some say it's there to correct a wrong:  that when most homeowners got a school property tax break, some of the state's neediest citizens didn't.  

When the Legislature passed school property tax breaks, most Texans saw coming a cut of more than one-third in their tax bill.

That is, except for those who might need it most.

"I haven't heard anything about it, so I assume there are a whole lot of people who haven't heard about it," says Linda Poindexter, who is trying to spread the word about this Saturday's election.

Yes, there's an election this Saturday. Early voting ends Tuesday.

"Whether you're [age] 30 or 65, eventually that will become important to you as well," she says of the state's property tax "cap."

Years ago, state voters approved an amendment so school property taxes can't be raised once a person reaches 65 years old, or becomes eligible for federal disability benefits.

However, only another constitutional amendment can reduce that cap.  So, while everyone else is getting a tax cut, according to Poindexter, "it leaves out the people who need the break most -- the elderly and the disabled."

Saturday's Amendment 1 seeks to change that, and will reduce that capped rate by one-third for those 65 and older or on federal disability.  That's a huge drop in the tax bill.

Poindexter says seniors she knows are on fixed incomes.  They might suffer as other taxes go up.

"[They] actually can be forced right out of their home if their taxes get so high they can't pay them."

If voters say "yes," the tax cut will take effect this year.   There's no organized opposition to Amendment 1, but a legislative analysis put forth one interesting question: whether a tax break should include those who are very rich.

A "yes" vote Saturday will extend the break to all seniors and disabled, regardless of wealth.

The $775 million saved on homeowners taxes would be made up with other taxes already passed by lawmakers, like the increased cigarette tax.

Morgan Palmer, Reporting morganpalmer@kltv.com

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