Winter Texans Protest ‘Double Taxation’ Law
A swarm of 50 Winter Texans, mostly RVers from the area’s 60 RV parks, descended Tuesday (Feb. 27) upon the county commissioners court in Edinburg, Texas, to protest taxation of their vehicles/dwellings as real property by both Hidalgo and Cameron counties.
According to a report in The Monitor, they are the only two Texas jurisdictions who hit RVers with a property tax on top of sales taxes paid when units were bought.
The issue has sizzled for a decade through legislative changes and opinions of Texas attorneys general, but finally erupted this year with a massive meeting in January at Twin Lakes RV Park in Mission, Texas, that led to the protest to county officialdom on Tuesday.
“Senior citizens coming down here are being screwed by the county,” said Gene Flynn, who has been embroiled in the issue for years. “These people are getting old, and they can’t haul back and forth like they used to, so they’re leaving their RVs here and they’re getting taxed.”
Scheduled as item No. 17 on the meeting agenda, the issue quickly was elevated to the first order of business by Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas III after he saw the packed 72-seat hearing room before him and sensed the anger and restlessness of the crowd.
One by one, aggrieved RVers stepped up to a microphone and let loose at the commissioners, as well as the county’s tax assessor-collector.
They complained about the double taxation, about their own limited incomes, about the arbitrariness of what properties are taxed and what aren’t, and about how no one seemed to be paying attention to their plight.
“Have you considered how much we contribute to your economy in food and fuel?’ asked DeLores Simpson. “We volunteer in your schools, in your hospitals.”
When Rolando Garza, Hidalgo’s chief tax appraiser, showed slides of RVs that were taxed and those that weren’t, the crowd sniffed. To them, in many cases, it was difficult to see substantive differences between units that had such attachments as porches and decks, and were thus probably taxable, and those that could be moved in as little as an hour and probably were not taxable.
Finally, Commissioner Oscar L. Garza Jr. said the situation was too complex to solve then and there, and that more concrete information was needed.