AUSTIN, Texas (AP) A Republican candidate for state comptroller on Thursday proposed a Texas taxpayer bill of rights that he said would create a fairer tax system.
Kerrville Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said that while politicians have talked about creating a formal set of rights for taxpayers, the Legislature has never formalized any.
"We need to take the next step and elevate the Texas Taxpayer Bill of Rights from a set of agency guidelines to true constitutional rights of all Texans," Hilderbran said.
The comptroller is one of the most powerful positions in state government, taking in taxes and fees while disbursing funds to state agencies. The comptroller also forecasts how much revenue the state will collect in the upcoming two years, thereby setting the limit on state spending.
Current Comptroller Susan Combs is retiring when her term is up in 2015 and Hilderbran is running against state Sen. Glenn Hegar and former state Rep. Raul Torres for the Republican nomination. Houston businessmen Mike Collier is running for the Democratic nomination.
Hilderbran said if elected he would work to guarantee seven rights for taxpayers, including fair audits, a simple refund process and only requiring Texans to pay disputed taxes after there has been a legal resolution. He also proposes extending the tax protest period, paying interest when the state pays refunds and a firm statute of limitations for all tax laws. The seventh right is for Texans to know that their rights cannot be changed.
"We need to balance the playing field in favor of taxpayers from the all-too-powerful state when it comes to tax disputes," he said. "Texas taxpayers just need a comptroller committed to making this a high priority and getting it accomplished."
Torres, a former Corpus Christi lawmaker, has said if elected he would institute a business management system known as Lean Six Sigma.
Hegar, from Katy, has touted his record in the Senate on gun rights and stricter regulation of abortions.