Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed legislation abolishing the controversial Texas RV trailer tax and returning all proceeds collected from it, according to a spokeswoman for state Sen. Todd Staples, who authored legislation terminating the tax.
And although Texas voters will consider a constitutional amendment on the same issue on Sept. 13, Staples believes the amendment is not required for his bill to take effect because Texas voters never intended to tax vacation-type travel trailers in the first place.
“This is a cleanup of what happened during the last (legislative) session,” said Shannon Smith, Staples’ communications director. “The bill is not contingent on the constitutional amendment.”
The tax was inadvertently created by Texas legislators, who used careless wording to implement a November 2001 ballot initiative. The ballot initiative was supposed to allow taxing units other than school districts to grant exemptions to owners of registered, nonincome-producing travel trailers. But in implementing the change, Texas lawmakers used wording that made travel trailers subject to school taxes, prompting the ire of trailer owners statewide.
It is because the legislature failed to accurately respond to previous voter intent that a constitutional amendment is not required for Staples’ legislation to take effect, Smith said. However, if voters approve a constitutional amendment in September, it will create a stronger legal framework for the correction, she said.
But RV industry groups may still need to do more work on the trailer-tax issue.
“We still have one major battle ahead of us, and that’s getting this past the voters of Texas,” said Clark McEwen, executive director of the Texas Recreational Vehicle Association (TRVA). The Austin-based group has been working with the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) and the Escapees RV Club to correct the trailer-tax matter. Other consumer groups, such as the Good Sam Club, also have encouraged their members to become involved in the issue.
McEwen said TRVA is working with both TACO and The Escapees to encourage their respective members to support the constitutional amendment in the September election. If fund-raising activities are successful, TRVA may also take out print advertisements to encourage voters to support the amendment.
The trailer tax would have collected about 2% of the purchase price or assessed value of a trailer each year from the owners of approximately 160,000 travel trailers registered across the Lone Star State.