A change to the Texas Constitution called Proposition 3 will be up for vote in November. In May, the Texas Legislature passed an amendment that would make it illegal to have a “wealth tax” in the Lone Star State. This includes “a tax on the difference between the assets and liabilities of an individual or family.” To put it another way, Proposition 3 would stop politicians from taxing the wealthy.
The Texas Constitution doesn’t allow an individual income tax, so the state has always been friendly to the very rich. Forbes’ list of the richest Americans this year includes more than 45 Texans with a total net worth of almost $700 billion. These people work in oil and gas, real estate, and technology, among other fields. Elon Musk, the richest person in the world, moved Tesla’s offices to Austin in 2021 because he thought California had too many rules, lawsuits, and taxes.
Rich people in Texas like to brag about the state’s low taxes, but they don’t think about the working- and middle-class people who live there. An index from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy says that Texas has the second-most unfair state and local tax system in the country, just behind Washington. A family making less than $20,900 a year is in the bottom 20% of earners in the state and pays about 13% of their family income in taxes. But the top 1% of earners—those who make more than $617,000 a year—only pay 3.1%. But California was named the best state because its taxes are the most progressive.
Texas politicians always say that the wealth tax would hurt regular voters, but this is not true because the 1% is spreading lies about it. According to Texas Insider, Representative Cole Hefner’s House Joint Resolution 132 stops the state from ever taxing people’s wealth. This means that Texans will get to keep more of their hard-earned money. But, despite what supporters of the amendment say, states that already have these kinds of rules have lower taxes on the average person than states that don’t.
A wealth tax has been suggested this year in states from Connecticut to Washington. Most of the time, though, arguments against, like the ones being used by the Texas Legislature, don’t say who wins. By not allowing a wealth tax, Proposition 3 makes the gap between the rich and the poor even bigger. This gives corporations and billionaires an even bigger edge over regular people.