Polk County, where the Escapees RV Club for full-timers is based, is the only Texas jurisdiction planning to collect a controversial trailer tax that is widely believed to have resulted from a recent legislative snafu, according to Brian Schaeffer, executive director of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO).
Other Texas counties are heeding recommendations by state officials not to collect the tax for the time being to give the Texas legislature an opportunity to correct the problem, he said.
At issue is Proposition 14, which Texas voters approved in November. The 12-word proposition called for an amendment to the Texas constitution that would allow the legislature to authorize taxing units other than school districts to grant tax exemptions to owners of registered, non-income-producing travel trailers, regardless of whether the trailers were real or personal property.
But in making the legal changes to implement Proposition 14, Texas lawmakers inadvertently used wording that had the effect of making every travel trailer in the state subject to school taxes, prompting the ire of travel trailer owners across the state.
“We are pursuing every possible avenue to stop this tax,” said Cathie Carr, CEO of the Escapees. The Livingston, Texas-based group is the nation’s largest association of full-time RVers.
Carr said the Escapees has not ruled out legal action against Polk County to prevent it from collecting the tax, but she said the group is still hoping it can persuade Polk County officials to hold off on collecting the new tax to give the Texas legislature a chance to correct the problem.
Approximately 3,800 travel trailers are registered in Polk County, roughly 3,000 of which belong to Escapees members, Carr said.
The Escapees club has posted a notice on its website, www.escapees.com, urging Polk County travel trailer owners to appeal the assessed valuation of their vehicles if they think a reassessment is warranted. The annual tax, if enforced, would amount to about 2% of the purchase price or assessed value of the trailer, Carr said.
The Escapees has organized a letter writing campaign targeting Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Attorney General John Cornyn, Polk County Representative Dan Ellis and Senator U.S. Sen. Todd Staples. The Escapees are demanding that Gov. Perry call a special session of the legislature to correct the error.
The Good Sam Club, one the largest campground membership organizations of full-time RV enthusiasts, also is appealing to its Texas-based members to fight for the elimination of this controversial new trailer tax. The effort, launched by Sue Bray, executive director of the Ventura, Calif.-based Good Sam Club, parallels similar calls to action by TACO, the Escapees and the Texas Recreational Vehicle Association.
Bray is urging Good Sam Club members to contact their Texas representatives electronically, using the club’s website at www.goodsamclub.com.
More than 161,000 travel trailers were registered across Texas as of January 2001, according to the state Department of Transportation.