No one likes the property tax. There's not much debate about that.There's an idea making the rounds that suggests Texas simply repeal the tax and replace it with a sales tax. Texans should be very wary: This isn't just bad policy, it's worse.The property tax produces more than $40 billion a year to fund the state's 4,000 local governments, including cities, counties and school districts. Texas doesn't provide local governments with many other tax options, so the property tax provides 80 percent of all of local tax revenue.It would take a whale of a sales tax to replace that revenue. Based on state estimates, a 25 percent sales tax on the current tax base would be needed to replace the property tax and provide as much revenue. The state already relies on sales tax for more than half of its total tax revenue.That means a $100 purchase would cost an extra $25 in tax, rather than the $8.25 charged now in most places. It also means that the Texas sales tax rate would be more than double the current highest sales tax nationally and far higher than states like New York, which typically are viewed as high-tax states.Supporters of this idea suggest that this problem could be overcome by expanding the sales tax base. The question is, to what?Many of the things that aren't taxed now don't make sense in a sales tax -- items like raw materials used in manufacturing. Or they would put a heavy burden on families -- like taxing groceries, water, medicine or home sales.There's certainly room to expand the sales tax base, but this idea would require bringing in twice as much revenue as the state sales tax produces now.Even if it could be pulled off, this tax swap would have other undesirable effects.It likely would undermine local control of funding for cities, counties and schools. The decisions about who gets how much of the tax would likely have to be made in Austin, and there would be losers -- particularly rural Texas, which doesn't have the population to generate much sales tax.The swap might be "revenue neutral," in raising the same amount of money, but it wouldn't be "tax neutral" for taxpayers. Depending on whether you pay a lot of sales tax or own land, you could see a large swing in your tax bill.The plan also would give an immense tax break to out-of-state property owners who would get a massive property tax cut but wouldn't necessarily pay anything in sales tax.Supporters sometimes promise that the change would produce an economic boom in Texas, but it's hard to see how that could be true. What business would locate here and face the prospect of a 25 percent tax on the goods and services it buys?The Legislature has worked to bring down property taxes, cutting the local school tax bill by $7 billion as recently as 2006.Based on these efforts and others, Texas was recently ranked as the top state for business by CNBC.It didn't get that ranking by taking risky gambles on tax ideas that are likely to produce massive problems for local government, families and businesses.This idea should be left where it was hatched -- in academic studies, consultant reports and think tanks. It isn't a real-world strategy.While activists and legislators should be commended for exploring all options when it comes to lessening the tax burden -- something most support -- they should be wary of policies that potentially add to that burden or drastically change the recipe that has made Texas the best state to do business in.Billy Hamilton, former state deputy comptroller, was commissioned to study the property tax for Texas Tax TRUTH, a project of state Rep. Jim Keffer of Eastland.