Don’t fall for this fake news about a Texas state income tax election this fall

Don’t you hate it when the stores put out holiday decorations way too early?

Well, that tactic has apparently spread to political misinformation season, too.

Texans will vote in November on a handful of amendments to the state constitution. Most often, these pass easily, with low voter turnout, and most have little effect on an average person’s life. But the words “state income tax” rightfully get voters’ attention.

Proposition 4, one of 10 on the fall ballot, would strengthen a ban on such a tax. There’s a pretty strong prohibition already: No tax could be enacted without voters approving it in a statewide election.

The new proposition would, in essence, require that two-thirds of each house of the Legislature vote for an amendment to allow a tax — and that, too, would have to win a statewide election.

Texans’ opposition to this tax is so strong, we suspect most will opt for an extra layer of protection. But don’t vote based on misleading social media posts, which are already warning of immediate paycheck deductions if you cast the wrong vote.

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This meme being spread on Facebook falsely says that voters will pay an income tax if they vote against an upcoming constitutional amendment proposition. n/a Facebook

If the amendment fails — we doubt it will — we will not suddenly be paying new taxes to the state.

The concern is real enough that already congressmen are getting questions about this issue, which isn’t even in their purview as federal lawmakers.

And there is one warning in all this that voters should heed: The proposition’s wording has potential for confusion. If you’re against an income tax, and you want the extra hurdle for one to ever be enacted, you should vote “in favor.” You’re not voting for an income tax; you’re voting for the proposition itself.

There’s another misconception about the vote, that it represents a “permanent” ban. True, it would be one step harder to enact an income tax. But anything the Legislature and voters add to the Constitution, they can take out.

Social media and chain emails are the usual vehicles for this scare tactic about income taxes. And they’re often spread by well-meaning people who don’t take time to check them. For all we know, the creators of memes don’t even understand how they’re misrepresenting issues.

But if this is a tactic designed to goose voter turnout in what’s usually a snoozer of an election, that’s bad form. If you see this misinformation, call it out. Emotions are running high enough in politics, and we don’t need Texans walking around seething about a tax bogeyman that truly doesn’t exist.

Texans are smart enough to figure out how to protect themselves from an income tax without scare tactics. After all, they’ve successfully done so for years.