Texas state legislators stayed true to their “no new taxes” pledge during the 2011 legislative session, but they didn’t promise no new tax legislation: they passed a total of 34 bills that affected some type of state tax.
The Special Session’s Senate Bill 1 was a comprehensive fiscal matters bill necessary to balance the budget and it included numerous changes to tax laws. Senate Bill 934, passed during the regular session at the request of State Comptroller Susan Combs, included major changes in tax code administration and enforcement. The new laws affect sales taxes, franchise taxes, property taxes, sin taxes, occupancy taxes, insurance taxes, motor fuel taxes and maybe a few others.
Violations of tax law may now lead to criminal penalties, increased fines and more jail time. Tax investigators now have more authority and taxpayers have specific records retention requirements, not to mention a new $50 late filing penalty that applies to almost any type of state tax report.
Franchise tax changes which benefit certain taxpayers were enacted and the annual sales tax holiday was changed from August to July beginning in 2012.
To help you keep up with all these changes, State Comptroller Susan Combs has issued a new publication, Legislative Update – Focus on 2011 Legislation (PDF), summarizing all the tax law changes of the 2011 legislative session. It’s a good guide with tax code and other statute references if you need to know the details.