Tax laws in Texas haven’t always been the most exciting subject for reading or casual discourse. However, if you’re looking to buy property or claim ownership of a new home in the Brazos Valley, there are some new adjustments to Texas’ laws on property tax. Primarily, the branch concerning application for property tax exemptions. And for homeowners looking for an exemption on the always tolling property tax, these new laws might be considerably interesting.
One of these new laws directly concerns the general homestead exemption. This exemption pertains to most, if not all of individual homeowners in some way. But it would hardly be considered an exemption if every home received the break. So, in order for a home to qualify for the general homestead exemption, it must meet certain criteria. First, it must be the primary residence of the homeowner. Second, the property must be owned by an individual (so basically not owned by a business or corporation). Also, the property must be the principal residence of the individual as of January 1st of that tax year. A home must also qualify as a homestead: any kind of separate structure, condominium, or manufactured home located on privately owned land. It also can be on land of up to 20 acres given that the land is owned by the homeowner and used for residential purposes.
So what is this new change in laws regarding property tax exemptions in Texas? For the homestead exemption, the recently applied ‘House Bill 252’ requires all applicants of the homestead exemption to provide a copy of the homeowner’s state driver’s license or identification card. It also mandates the presentation of the homeowners vehicle registration receipt to be sent with the exemption application. And for homeowners without vehicle ownership, the new bill allows for a simple substitution. Applicants for the homestead exemption that don’t own any vehicles may send in their current utility bill that provides their name and address, along with an official declaration indicating the homeowner’s lack of vehicle ownership.
Though, it is important to note that these requirements are not necessary for homeowners who applied for the homestead exemption before the changes in legislation. Upon applying, it will not be necessary to re-apply unless your principal residence moves or you receive a new application to be processed from your regional tax office.
The reason for these new measures might seem unusual to those bothered by the extra required documentation for the application of a property tax exemption. Yet, according to Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, “The homestead exemption is intended to help relieve the tax burden of Texas full-time residents. This new legislation ensures that the system is working fairly and legally.” Regardless, a few extra papers and methods of identification are hardly anything new in government processes. And if they help provide for a relief on a homeowner’s property tax, the extra hassle is definitely worth the return.
Changes in the requirements for homestead exemptions are not all that have changed with the recent passing of property tax legislation. All homeowners seeking for the ‘Over 65 years of age’ exemption, as well as the disabled exemption, the disabled veteran’s exemption, the extended exemption for a homeowner’s surviving spouse, and the mobile home exemption are all subjected to the requirements mandated by the new law. Though, certain aspects of a few particular exemptions have been elaborated upon.
First of all, under the new law, Texas will now give property tax breaks to the spouses of 100% disabled veteran’s. The old exemption had always provided a full relief for veterans who had declared 100% disability from a service related incident. Now, however, the spouses of these veterans are also allowed that relief, should the veteran die. Also, for the spouses of homeowners who qualify for the 65 year old tax exemption may qualify for a property tax ceiling, given they are 55 years or older. These tax ceilings allow for the cost of the property tax to go below the provided ceiling, but never to exceed it.
Another alteration in the requirements for exemptions from property tax includes particular circumstances regarding manufactured homes (or mobile homes). Owners of these vehicles must provide documentation in addition to their proof of residency: including proof of purchase of their mobile home, as well as a statement of location and ownership provided by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
Of all these adjustments in the requirements and procedures of Texas Property Tax Exemptions, there are still many exceptions and exclusion that accompany all documented legislation. For the best source regarding individual qualification for tax exemptions and specific county property taxes, it is best to confer with the Brazos Valley County tax office, or through whichever particular county your principal residence is located in.
PS – Susan Hilton is Bryan College Station, Texas’ real estate specialist in foreclosure sales and real estate agent career building so if you need help – CALL! 979-219-3970