A recent study by SmartAsset ranked the most tax-friendly communities in Texas for retirees, and West Odessa was the second-highest on the list.
West Odessa came in a close second behind Center, Texas which had a slightly lower property tax rate at .95 percent compared to West Odessa’s 1.08 percent. The study was conducted by looking at how each city’s tax policies would impact a retiree with a $50,000 income, receiving $15,000 from Social Security, $10,000 from a private pension, $15,000 from retirement savings and $10,000 in wages.
County Auditor David Austin said West Odessa is so tax-friendly because there is no sales tax for purchases made outside of Odessa and Goldsmith city limits, whether they reside in West Odessa or not.
West Odessans still pay an estimate of $981 per year in state sales tax. The study determined the sales tax burden of each community by estimating that 35 percent of take-home pay after tax is spent on taxable goods. They then multiplied the average sales tax rate for a community by the household income minus income tax, then multiplying that number by 35 percent to estimate the sales tax paid.
Ector County Precinct 1 Commissioner Eddy Shelton said the tax-friendliness of West Odessa is something he would like to change.
“The problem with being the second-most tax-friendly is they don’t receive the benefits that they need,” Shelton said. “They’re lacking in road repairs and infrastructure, they’re lacking in fire rescue protection, they’re lacking in deputies patrolling the area. That’s the price you pay for being the tax-friendliest area.”
Shelton added that he would change the current tax system to bring in more money for the county through the implementation of a county assistance district, which county residents will get to vote on this November.
The assistance district would levy an additional sales tax of 1.25 cents per dollar onto Ector County residents outside the city limits of Odessa and Goldsmith, should voters approve the proposal.
County officials estimate the sales tax would raise around $15 million a year, more than a quarter of the county’s $59 million expenditure budget.
“The thing with the assistance district is it’s not necessarily the residents who are paying these taxes,” Shelton said. “It’s anybody who does any business in that area. People just driving through on those roads who stop and make a purchase help pay for the road they drove on.”