The Case for a Texas Income Tax


Texas is one of just 9 states that does not levy either an individual or a corporate income tax. The last time a Texas income tax was seriously discussed was during the tenure of Bob Bullock as Texas Lieutenant Governor in 1991. But as described by Cal Jillson in Lone Star Tarnished: A Critical Look at Texas Politics and Public Policy the negative reaction to Bullock’s proposal was so great that he almost immediately changed position by 180 degrees. The result was that the Texas Constitution now requires that an income tax can be enacted only with a majority in both houses of the Texas Legislature and then approved by a majority of voters.[1]  Furthermore, the Texas Constitution requires that two-thirds of the proceeds of any income tax must be used to reduce property taxes, and the remaining one-third must be directed to public education. 

So why would anyone in their right mind even broach the suggestion of implementing an income tax in Texas?  Well, first off, it should be noted that the Texas Constitution has already been amended 517 times.[2]  So constitutional prohibitions and requirements might not be totally insurmountable.  Second, there are several reasons why it might not be completely irrational to follow the vast majority of other states in this regard.  Some of the reasons why a more progressive tax in Texas is worth considering are spelled out in the accompanying set of slides (click on Item 2 to the left, press the [Esc] key to exit the slides).

[1] Jilson, Cal, Lone Star Tarnished: A Critical Look at Texas Politics and Public Policy (2nd edition), Rutledge, NY (2015), p. 270.

[2], at this link.