Texas Website Spells Out Where Your Tax Dollars Go
by: Ed Mayberry, August 22, 2012 2:08:00 pm
Comptroller Susan Combs says Texans are entitled to know who's in their wallets, and this new website includes interactive maps for each of the state's 254 counties.
"It puts out there all of the taxing entities in this state — property taxing entities, or sales tax — for people to be able to find, in a transparent way, who's taxing them, and then of course to say 'Well gee, I'm happy to do this but I didn't realize that I was being taxed by this group. Oh, I don't think I want that service'."
There are scores of new special purpose districts that have been created to collect taxes for utility infrastructure, groundwater and hospitals.
"Every region is different. Everyone has different needs. So maybe you've got, you know, some of those are crime control districts. Some of those are emergency services, library districts. All of those may be absolutely fine, but the point is, people don't see these. These sales tax special purpose districts are invisible to you, and you have no idea of this proliferation of folks who are in your wallet."
Harris County has, for example, 535 separate taxing entities. There are practical reasons for knowing how the pie is sliced.
"If I want to buy a house, I think what I'm going to do is I'm going to go online and find out 'well gosh, what are they doing here in this particular area?' In fact, in Baytown there's five separate sales taxing districts and eight property taxing districts. And if you're in an area called Houston Heights, no, there's only a total of 11."