Skip to content
Quick Start for:
Part I:
Property Taxes Statewide

In tax year 2003, 3,702 local taxing units levied almost $29 billion in property taxes, just under 6 percent more than in 2002.

The Texas Constitution authorizes local governments to levy property taxes. Local governments include counties, school districts, cities and special districts such as junior colleges, hospitals, utilities, flood control and rural fire districts.

In each of the state's 254 counties, a single appraisal district determines the appraised value of taxable property. Potter and Randall County Appraisal Districts have formed a single appraisal office in Amarillo. Local governments, commonly-called taxing units, levy property taxes based on the property values set by the county appraisal districts.

Table 1 shows that taxing units by type increased property taxes from 5 to 8 percent from 2002. School property taxes—imposed by 1,031 independent school districts and representing about 60 percent of total property taxes—totaled almost $17.3 billion in 2003. Nine new cities pushed the number of taxing cities to 1,040 and increased city property taxes to exceed $4.4 billion. County property taxes topped $4.1 billion in 2003. The levy of special districts rose by 8 percent to pass $3 billion, with 40 new special districts levying a property tax.

Table 1 - Property Taxes Reported by Unit Type - 2002 vs. 2003
  Tax Year 2002 Tax Year 2003
Unit Type No. of Units Tax Levy % Tax Levy No. of Units Tax Levy % Tax Levy % Increase
School districts*1.033$16,418,788,831 60.1% 1,031 $17,264,153,972 59.8% 5.1%
Cities 1,031 $4,186,795,363 15.3% 1,040 $4,415,212,819 15.3% 5.5%
Counties 254 $3,849,728,346 14.1% 254 $4,121,758,950 14.3% 7.1%
Special districts 1,337 $2,864,454,984 10.5% 1,377 $3,092,285,295 10.7% 8.0%
Total 3,655 $27,319,767,524 100.0% 3,702 $28,893,411,036 100.0% 5.8%
*Includes:
County Equalization   $26,870,618     $27,559,332   
South Texas ISD   $9,140,424     $10,527,193   
Totals may not add due to rounding.
School district consolidations occurred from 2002 to 2003.
Source: Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Property Tax Division.


Property Tax Growth

Table 2 shows the growth in property tax levies by the four major types of taxing units since 1985. Comparing tax years 1985 and 2003, the total of all taxing units' property taxes grew 222 percent.

Table 2 – Growth of the Property Tax by Unit Type, 1985 – 2003
Tax Year Special District
Levy
County Levy City Levy School Levy Total Property
Tax Levy
1985 $1,056,802,000 $1,427,755,000 $1,820,345,000 $ 4,663,892,000 $ 8,968,794,000
1986 $1,141,652,000 $1,482,295,000 $1,966,674,000 $ 5,026,592,000 $ 9,617,213,000
1987 $1,176,667,000 $1,539,953,000 $2,028,743,000 $ 5,218,820,000 $ 9,964,183,000
1988 $1,232,415,000 $1,595,183,000 $2,145,726,000 $ 5,575,843,000 $10,549,167,000
1989 $1,284,165,144 $1,715,691,860 $2,200,415,156 $ 6,072,227,279 $11,272,499,439
1990 $1,354,607,273 $1,743,176,612 $2,218,971,749 $ 6,605,433,619 $11,922,189,253
1991* $1,459,643,501 $1,894,013,461 $2,303,609,801 $ 7,566,042,099* $13,223,308,862
1992* $1,492,043,534 $1,996,116,460 $2,311,630,199 $ 8,181,309,478* $13,981,099,671
1993 $1,535,769,813 $2,176,974,573 $2,362,404,482 $ 8,681,859,148 $14,757,008,016
1994 $1,620,504,796 $2,311,389,149 $2,493,554,910 $ 9,024,885,601 $15,450,334,456
1995 $1,628,217,607 $2,391,961,283 $2,596,742,540 $ 9,340,994,056 $15,957,915,486
1996 $1,698,557,436 $2,537,183,937 $2,701,214,386 $ 9,910,195,171 $16,847,150,930
1997 $1,759,622,591 $2,658,308,076 $2,847,081,480 $10,394,500,372 $17,659,512,519
1998 $1,889,138,306 $2,828,286,927 $3,005,996,060 $11,334,614,289 $19,058,035,582
1999 $2,041,041,011 $2,979,279,400 $3,247,964,177 $12,009,923,498 $20,278,208,086
2000 $2,389,110,312 $3,200,919,731 $3,530,863,516 $13,392,336,012 $22,513,229,571
2001 $2,703,512,059 $3,566,857,130 $3,884,829,249 $15,155,217,587 $25,310,416,025
2002 $2,864,454,984 $3,849,728,346 $4,186,795,363 $16,418,788,831 $27,319,767,524
2003 $3,092,285,295 $4,121,758,950 $4,415,212,819 $17,264,153,972 $28,893,411,036
*1991 and 1992 include County Education Districts.
Source: Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Property Tax Division.


Property Taxes vs. Other Taxes

When examining how large a role property taxes play compared to other state and local taxes, it is important to remember that different collection cycles exist. The analysis shown in Figure A looks at 2002 property taxes of $27 billion, which local governments spent in calendar year 2003, versus state and other local taxes collected and spent in fiscal 2003, which ended August 31, 2003. Table 3 compares fiscal 2002 and fiscal 2003, which ended August 31, 2003.

Pie Chart

Using this comparison basis, major state and local sales taxes and property taxes in 2003 totaled more than $57 billion. Property taxes remained the single largest type of tax at almost 48 percent of this total.

State sales taxes, the next largest revenue source at $14 billion, represented 25 percent of the total. When combined with other state taxes, such as motor fuels and motor vehicle taxes, the franchise tax, oil and gas severance taxes, "sin" taxes and others, the state's share of the total tax levy is just under 46 percent.

Local city and county sales taxes, along with metropolitan transit authority (MTA) taxes, were almost 7 percent of the total.

Table 3: State and Local Sales and Property Taxes as a Percentage of Total Major Taxes
Type of Tax Tax Amount for Fiscal 2002* Percent of Total Tax Amount for Fiscal 2003** Percent of Total
Property Tax $25,310,416,025 45.6% $27,319,767,524 47.6%
State Sales Tax $14,516,341,226 26.1% $14,277,286,162 24.9%
Other State Taxes $11,762,805,267 21.2% $11,849,389,262 20.7%
Local Sales Taxes*** $3,970,173,894 7.1% $3,914,416,742 6.8%
Total Taxes $55,559,736,412 100.0% $57,360,859,690 100.0%
* Uses the 2001 local property tax levy that local governments spent in fiscal 2002. Includes other local taxes as well as the major state taxes, which were collected and spent in fiscal 2002, ending August 31, 2002.
** Uses the 2002 local property tax levy that local governments spent in fiscal 2003. Includes other local taxes as well as the major state taxes, which were collected and spent in fiscal 2003, ending August 31, 2003.
** Does not include local utility, hotel/motel, mixed beverage and other taxes.
Source: Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Property Tax Division.


Tax Rate Rollback Activity

Local voters may limit adopted tax rates, if local taxing units adopt tax rates above their rollback tax rates. Local voters in two of seven taxing units limited their 2003 adopted tax rate. They were Kinney County and the City of Laguna Vista in Cameron County.

For the preceding tax year, five out of eight taxing units had to limit their tax rates after elections on their 2002 tax rates.

The rollback tax rate is a calculated maximum rate allowed by law without voter approval. The rollback rate provides the taxing unit with about the same amount of tax revenue it spent the previous year for day-to-day operations, plus an extra 8 percent increase for those operations plus sufficient funds to pay debts in the coming year. For school districts, the extra increase is $0.06 per $100 of property value, rather than 8 percent, based on different calculation steps.

If a local taxing unit other than a school district adopts a tax rate above the rollback rate, local voters may petition for an election to roll back the adopted tax rate to the calculated rollback tax rate. The law requires that the petition must be signed by at least 10 percent of the registered voters shown on the most recent official voters list for the taxing unit.

A school district that adopts a tax rate above the rollback rate must hold a rollback election between 30 and 90 days after the rate is adopted. No petition by citizens is required. The school district’s election differs from other types of units in that voters are asked to ratify their school’s adopted tax rate. If a simple majority of the votes cast in the election favor the adopted tax rate, then the adopted rate stands. If the voters disapprove the adopted rate, the school district’s rollback rate becomes the adopted tax rate. After the outcome of the election, school tax bills are mailed.

Four independent school districts (ISDs) had voters ratify their 2003 tax rates that exceeded their rollback rates. The ISDs where voters approved a higher tax rate included Borden ISD in Borden County, Industrial ISD in Jackson County, Mirando City ISD in Webb County and Silverton ISD in Briscoe County.

Voters in the Concho County Hospital District decided not to roll back the 2003 tax rate, and the hospital retained its 2003 adopted tax rate.

One taxing unit held that the submitted rollback petition was invalid. The city council of Belton in Bell County held that the rollback petition signatures were not verified and the petition did not comply with its city charter.

Table 4 lists the taxing units, with the election date, election results, the adopted tax rate, the rollback tax rate and the percentage the adopted tax rate exceeded the district’s rollback rate. Tax rates are per $100 of value.

Table 4 - Taxing Units that Exempt Freeport Property
Taxing Unit and
Election Date
County Election Results 2003 Tax Rate Rollback Rate/
% Increase
School District
Borden ISD
9/27/03
Borden Ratified
For - 136
Against - 10
1.45 1.36/6%
Industrial ISD
9/13/03
Jackson Ratified
For - 256
Against - 225
1.9387 1.6155/20%
Mirando City ISD
11/4/03
Webb Ratified
For - 76
Against - 4
1.50 1.288/16%
Silverton ISD
11/4/03
Briscoe Ratified
For - 388
Against - 27
1.30 1.12/16%
County
Kinney
2/7/04
Kinney Rollback Passed
For - 384
Against - 98
.8393
old rate - .87
.8393/4%
City
Laguna Vista
2/7/04
Cameron Rollback Passed
For - 165
Against - 97
.2275
old rate - .2507
.2275/10%
Special District
Concho County Hospital District
5/15/04
Concho Rollback Failed
Against - 451
For - 239
.3763.2981/26%
Source: Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Property Tax Division.

Table 5 gives the history of rollback elections since they began in 1982.

Table 5 - History of Rollback Elections That Passed, 1982 - 2003
Tax Year School Districts Counties Cities Special Districts Total
1982 11 of 24 6 of 6 2 of 3 2 of 2 21 of 35
1983 2 of 4 4 of 4 0 of 1 0 6 of 9
1984 0 of 3 1 of 1 4 of 4 0 of 1 5 of 9
1985 1 of 1 4 of 4 3 of 5 0 8 of 10
1986 2 of 4 2 of 2 2 of 3 1 of 2 7 of 11
1987 2 of 9 1 of 1 3 of 7 3 of 5 9 of 22
1988 4 of 12 3 of 3 4 of 7 1 of 2 12 of 24
1989 10 of 23 4 of 6 6 of 7 1 of 2 21 of 38
1990 6 of 11 3 of 4 2 of 4 3 of 5 14 of 24
1991 1 of 1 2 of 2 2 of 4 1 of 1 6 of 8
1992 0 0 of 1 3 of 3 0 of 1 3 of 5
1993 0 of 3 1 of 2 2 of 2 0 3 of 7
1994 1 of 2 1 of 2 3 of 3 1 of 1 6 of 8
1995 0 of 2 0 1 of 4 0 1 of 6
1996 1 of 3 0 1 of 4 2 of 2 4 of 9
1997 0 0 1 of 1 0 1 of 1
1998 2 of 4 0 2 of 3 0 4 of 7
1999 3 of 11 0 0 of 1 0 of 1 3 of 13
2000 2 of 11 2 of 2 2 of 2 0 of 1 6 of 16
2001 2 of 30 0 of 1 1 of 2 1 of 1 4 of 34
2002 3 of 5 0 of 0 2 of 3 0 of 0 5 of 8
2003 0 of 4 1 of 1 1 of 1 0 of 1 2 of 7
Total 53 of 167 35 of 42 47 of 74 16 of 28 151 of 311
Percentage 32% 83% 63.5% 57% 49%
Source: Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Property Tax Division.


Freeport Exemption

In 1990, school districts, counties, cities and junior college districts gained the right to choose whether or not to tax freeport property. Tax Code Section 11.251 defines freeport property as goods held in Texas temporarily for up to 175 days for assembling, processing, manufacturing, storage or other purposes.

Texas law was patterned after the federal law on goods coming into U.S. ports and not taxed since they were "free" from a port or tax location. In 1989, the Texas Legislature passed Tax Code Section 11.251 titled "Tangible Personal Property Exempt" but no one called it that. With the term "freeport goods" in the first subsection, taxpayers and local tax officials refer to it as the freeport exemption.

While the vast majority of school districts, counties, cities and junior college districts continue to tax freeport property, the number of these units that exempt freeport property from taxation increased by 25 taxing units to 297 units in tax year 2003. The amount of value exempted for these taxing units increased by $0.5 billion, or about 2 percent.

Some junior college districts also exempt freeport property, but the Texas Comptroller’s Property Tax Division does not collect data from these entities for that information. State law requires other special districts, such as water districts or hospital districts, to exempt freeport property.

Table 6 lists the total exempted value by counties, cities and school districts for the freeport exemption for 2002 and 2003. Table 7 lists the freeport value loss by county, Table 8 lists the freeport loss by city and Table 9 lists the freeport value loss by school district.

Table 6 - Taxing Units That Exempt Freeport Property
Types of Taxing Units That Exempt Freeport Property * 2002 Number of Units 2002 Taxable Value Loss 2003 Number of Units2003 Taxable Value Loss
County 46 $ 10.3 billion 49 $10.1 billion
City 115 $9.6 billion 127 $9.7 billion
School District 113 $10.0 billion 121 $10.8 billion
Total 274 $29.9 billion 297 $30.6 billion
* State law provided that counties, cities and school districts had a choice to tax or exempt freeport property.
Source: Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Property Tax Division.

Table 7 - 2003 Freeport Value Loss by County
County Freeport Value Loss
Anderson $19,781,733
Angelina 28,466,815
Archer 1,004,630
Bastrop 6,422,669
Bexar 285,549,530
Bosque 1,016,670
Brazos 18,601,457
Burnet 7,539,173
Coleman 901,130
Collin 542,322,489
Dallas 2,367,237,702
Delta 7,452,426
Denton 784,083,218
Eastland 4,511,540
El Paso 1,089,251,388
Foard 736,720
Gray 10,659,069
Grayson 102,815,597
Guadalupe 84,247,340
Harrison 57,838,688
Hidalgo 300,330,739
Hill 2,016,095
Hutchinson 6,705,730
Kaufman 49,435,690
Kendall 7,604,960
Lamar 74,634,750
Lubbock 44,742,924
Maverick 23,467,260
McLennan 113,188,320
Milam 9,344,980
Montgomery 72,609,002
Palo Pinto 10,975,240
Parker 152,860
Potter 106,915,652
Randall 45,256,588
Rockwall 10,670,039
Runnels 13,099,470
Rusk 3,774,110
Smith 197,062,596
Tarrant 2,473,468,078
Titus 7,551,001
Tom Green 31,424,877
Travis 811,315,897
Val Verde 52,063,610
Walker 1,789,683
Webb 154,117,600
Wharton 7,607,170
Wichita 81,997,378
Young 5,197,469
Total (49 Counties) $10,138,959,752
Source: Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Property Tax Division.

Table 8 - 2003 Freeport Value Loss by City
City Freeport Value Loss
Allen $71,486,620
Amarillo 51,376,368
Anthony 368,556
Arlington 135,046,582
Atlanta 2,036,530
Austin 593,137,213
Azle 202,942
Balch Springs 305,026
Ballinger 7,226,550
Bee Cave, Village of 39,084
Bellmead 106,520
Boerne 3,762,000
Brookshire 8,128,021
Brownsville 83,028,343
Bryan 8,921,172
Buda 2,115,658
Burkburnett 6,201,542
Canyon 422,627
Cedar Hill 3,764,122
Cedar Park 4,787,002
Clarksville 6,403,570
Clifton 1,016,670
Clute 443,090
Coleman 901,130
College Station 7,289,944
Combes 283,728
Converse 2,313,470
Cooper 7,145,001
Coppell 88,993,060
Corpus Christi 18,743,578
Crowell 736,720
Dallas 940,818,976
Dalworthington Gardens 451,507
Del Rio 13,378,990
Denison 43,528,600
Denton 140,570,428
Diboll 3,623,530
Eagle Pass 18,093,830
El Paso 1,003,542,606
Euless 1,280,980
Farmersville 867,367
Flower Mound 2,421,570
Fort Worth 1,643,679,658
Frisco 8,325,877
Gainesville 12,352,967
Galveston 126,090
Garland 213,696,660
Georgetown 14,048,691
Graham 3,560,584
Grand Prairie 203,065,898
Grapevine 546,749,654
Haltom City 18,155,232
Harlingen 17,294,219
Haslet 41,245,351
Henderson 3,774,110
Hillsboro 1,896,095
Horizon 1,771,991
Houston 973,131,930
Howe 467,418
Huntsville 1,253,449
Iowa Park 47,828,946
Kennedale 9,652,219
Kerrville 4,762,000
La Marque 10,560
Lakeway Village 169,250
Lancaster 25,252,400
Laredo 154,117,600
League City 5,943,720
Leander 1,399,688
Lewisville 155,199,942
Lubbock 39,537,833
Lufkin 11,628,281
Mansfield 46,076,060
Marble Falls 46,893
Marshall 2,882,077
McAllen 122,118,237
McGregor 12,033,710
McKinney 229,596,396
Mesquite 66,400,906
Midlothian 68,023,486
Mineral Wells 15,430,340
Mission 21,824,223
Muenster 68,621
North Richland Hills 246,723
Nacogdoches 20,028,050
Palestine 17,602,283
Paris 72,684,280
Pearland 15,832,280
Pharr 765,295
Plano 177,091,032
Ponder 53,000
Port Aransas 715,282
Red Oak 370,250
Reno 1,950,470
Richland Hills 5,781,885
Roanoke 113,662,249
Rockwall 10,670,039
Rosenberg 378,790
Round Rock 72,082,474
Rowlett 594,208
Saginaw 43,212,199
San Angelo 20,602,898
San Antonio 275,052,730
San Benito 1,218,566
Sanger 9,191,902
Schertz 7,765,699
Seguin 43,723,126
Selma 32,318,447
Shenandoah 435,239
Sherman 55,126,584
Socorro 50,994,252
Southlake 3,044,049
Southmayd 557,397
Stafford 132,087,850
Stephenville 44,797,917
Sunnyvale 35,707,527
Taylor 15,771,717
Terrell 47,289,528
The Colony 1,066,094
Tyler 114,908,804
Waco 99,271,140
Waxahachie 70,593,663
Wichita Falls 41,627,404
Willis 1,946,098
Winnsboro 922,690
Winters 5,872,920
Woodway 583,910
Total (127 cities) $9,696,109,025
Source: Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Property Tax Division.

Table 9 - 2003 Freeport Value Loss by School District (ISD)
School District (ISD) Freeport Value Loss
Alamo Heights $2,224,480
Aldine 302,945,680
Aledo 8,650
Alief 25,174,240
Allen 71,486,620
Amarillo 31,521,746
Archer City 1,004,630
Arlington 319,437,197
Arp 10,812
Ballinger 7,226,550
Bastrop 6,422,669
Birdville 61,736,948
Boerne 7,604,960
Borger 3,298,940
Brazosport 192,713,380
Brownsville 94,871,669
Burkburnett 19,228,240
Burnet Consolidated 6,251,484
Canutillo 51,058,313
Canyon 40,830,905
Cedar Hill 3,764,122
Chapel Hill 250,943
Chisum 25,268,450
City View 6,742,329
Clint 2,062,679
Coleman 901,130
Cooper 7,452,426
Coppell 169,129,531
Crowell 736,720
Crowley 14,930,186
Cypress-Fairbanks 438,308,220
Dallas 864,060,327
Deer Park 226,823,150
Denton 140,570,428
Diboll 3,623,530
Dumas 30,189,680
Eagle Mt-Saginaw 259,429,606
Eagle Pass 23,467,260
El Paso 290,736,768
Evadale 18,952,920
Everman 26,776,871
Fabens 18,431,193
Fort Bend 121,672,800
Fort Worth 525,117,963
Frisco 8,325,877
Garland 203,184,733
Garner 4,305,740
Graham 3,557,649
Grand Prairie 106,350,135
Grapevine-Colleyville 807,445,345
Harlingen 43,257,939
Henderson 3,774,110
Hidalgo 9,278,447
Highland Park 79,819,589
Hillsboro 1,896,095
Humble 7,395,940
Huntsville 1,253,449
Iowa Park Consolidated 8,499,254
Judson 62,903,650
Klein 26,373,950
La Porte 278,034,600
La Vega 1,047,180
Lamar Consolidated 1,254,840
Lewisville 244,093,481
Lindale 121,720
Lufkin 27,586,205
Manor 129,132,361
Mansfield 57,721,568
Marble Falls 1,287,662
Marshall 36,802,223
McAllen Consolidated 70,883,060
McGregor 13,223,590
McKinney 229,619,946
Mesquite 66,400,906
Midlothian 68,366,768
Mission Consolidated 22,494,510
Montgomery 5,275,288
Nacogdoches 20,028,050
New Deal 795,532
New Waverly 536,234
North Lamar 35,737,090
Northwest 922,142,113
Palestine 16,675,230
Paris 14,709,000
Pearland 18,768,100
Pflugerville 236,161,940
Plano 203,474,176
Point Isabel 19,734,837
Red Oak 370,250
Richardson 221,689,012
Rockdale 6,462,700
Rockwall 10,670,039
Royse City 2,429,050
San Angelo 20,602,898
San Antonio 89,701,620
San Benito 57,105,495
San Felipe-Del Rio 52,063,610
Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City 40,084,146
Sharyland 183,749,601
Socorro 474,097,332
Spring 33,484,480
Stafford Municipal 132,087,850
Stephenville 44,797,917
Sunnyvale 35,707,527
Terrell 47,389,607
Tyler 132,627,445
Veribest 10,821,979
Waco 26,616,640
Waller 10,923,046
Waxahachie 70,593,663
Weatherford 11,087,036
West Orange-Cove 110,516,170
West Oso 9,140,197
Westwood 3,106,503
Whitehouse 53,644,990
Wichita Falls 47,527,555
Wilmer-Hutchins 22,231,603
Winona 8,567,720
Winters 5,872,920
Wylie 27,640,691
Ysleta 247,475,717
Total (121 ISDs) $10,835,074,466
Source: Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Property Tax Division.