Resources

FAQ

The rising cost of recapture is draining resources from local public schools in Texas.

Recapture, also known as Robin Hood, allows the State of Texas to remove local property tax dollars from public school districts. Legislators then use these dollars to help balance the rest of the state budget. Recapture began as a limited revenue source for education funding, but it has grown exponentially — now taking almost $3 billion in property taxes from Texas public school districts per year.

Meaningful recapture reform will help keep more dollars invested by local taxpayers in local public schools.

Recapture removes $3 billion per year from Texas school districts.

School districts that lose revenue through recapture educate more than 1.2 million Texas students.

Over the last 10 years, the amount of money that the state removes from school districts through recapture has almost TRIPLED.

Economically disadvantaged students make up more than half the population of districts that lose revenue through recapture.

How Does Recapture Work?

Members of the Texas Legislature can take action to increase transparency and control the growth of recapture

How can legislators reform the system?

1. COST OF EDUCATION ADJUSTMENT: The formulas determining a district’s entitlement should adjust for the fact that it’s more expensive to educate students in certain parts of the state.

2. STOP THE SHELL GAME: Legislators should ensure that the dollars the state collects through recapture go to schools instead of other areas of the state budget.

3. TAXPARENCY: Property tax statements should clearly state how much of a property owner’s tax payment will be taken away by the state through recapture and how much will stay with local schools.

Resources

Share on Social Media

Post or tweet your opposition to the growth of recapture using the examples below.

Robin Hood in Texas

This report from the Texas School Coalition looks at the impact of recapture on Texas students, schools, and taxpayers.

Summary: The Rise of Recapture

This two-page document highlights the growing impact of recapture and points toward solutions that could help keep local dollars in local schools.

Sample Letter to Legislators

Let your legislator know you oppose the growth of recapture in the State of Texas. 

Frequently Asked Questions

In a 1993 response to court rulings calling for a more equitable school funding system, the Legislature began requiring school districts with higher levels of property wealth per student to pay recapture. Recapture is the process through which these districts send some of their local property-tax revenue to the state. The process is often referred to as Robin Hood. The intent of recapture is to help all school districts have roughly similar amounts of money to spend per child. But over time, recapture has grown considerably, and today recapture payments have grown so large that the state uses those dollars to support a considerable amount of the state’s funding obligation for education, therefore freeing up state funds to help balance the rest of the state budget.

The state took about $2.96 billion in local property tax dollars out of Texas communities during the 2020-21 school year through recapture, according to January 2022 data from the Texas Education Agency. Those recapture dollars came from 158 Texas school districts.

The system of funding public education relies heavily on local property taxes. And the more the system relies on property taxes, the more it relies on recapture.  When property values increase, which they have in recent years, then more of a district’s local revenue becomes subject to recapture unless the district is growing by a proportional amount of students, or if the state chooses to increase its investment in public education or to invest more in property tax rate reduction.

Approximately 160 school districts are expected to pay recapture during the 2021-22 school year. Many of these districts, such as Austin ISD, Houston ISD and Dallas ISD, serve students that predominantly come from low-income families. These districts are limited in their ability to meet their students’ needs, because they have to send away much of what they collect in local property taxes. But if they reduce their tax rates, they will be penalized by the state, and be allowed to keep even less of their local funding. Districts are subject to recapture due to property wealth within the district, but property wealth often does not correlate to personal wealth among the families of students served by the district.  Recapture districts can be found throughout the state.  Some are very small, while others are some of the largest districts in the state.  They are rural, urban, suburban, and every circumstance in-between. 

It’s not that simple. If a district reduces its tax rate beyond reductions that are mandated in state law, the state reduces the district’s entitlement, which is the amount of money that the state says a district should have to educate each student. Therefore, a district that reduced its tax rate in order to pay less in recapture would likely pay about the same amount to the state in recapture, but it would have fewer dollars to educate students and pay teachers. 

This information is provided by the Texas School Coalition, located at 601 Camp Craft Road, Austin, TX 78746. For more information on the Texas School Coalition, see www.txsc.org