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Ways & Means Hears from County Officials

Aurora Flores
TAC Legislative Liaison

Several county officials were present as the House Committee on Ways & Means heard exemption bills for veterans and other appraisal process issues this past Monday. Johnson County Tax Assessor-Collector Scott Porter, president of the County Tax Assessor-Collectors Association of Texas, spoke in favor of Rep. Dennis Bonnen’s (R-Angleton) HB 1008, which would give 100-percent disabled veterans a total homestead exemption that is granted retroactively to Jan. 1 of a tax year, regardless of when the property owner qualified for the exemption during that tax year. Hays County Tax Assessor-Collector Luanne Caraway testified in favor of HB 709 by Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), which provides that a taxing unit may apply a property owner’s tax refund to another delinquent tax year for the property that receives a tax refund. The bill also provides that a person who receives the Section 11.22 disabled veteran’s exemption can pay the home taxes in installments. Current law only allows the unmarried surviving spouse (and not the disabled veteran) to pay in installments. Additionally, Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos testified for HB 3132 by Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D- Harlingen), which grants a property tax exemption on the residence homesteads of honorably discharged veterans. This bill applies only to the optional county farm to market roads/flood control property tax and permits a veteran to choose the new exemption or the existing optional homestead exemption for individuals who are at least 65 years of age or disabled, whichever provides the greater benefit.

The committee also heard HB 548 by Rep. Chris Turner (D-Arlington), which grants a total property tax exemption on the homestead of a surviving spouse of an individual who is killed in action as a member of the armed services if the surviving spouse has not remarried since the death of the member of the armed services. Also considered was Rep. Charles Perry’s (R-Lubbock) HB 97, requiring a property tax exemption equal to a disabled veteran’s disability percentage on the residence if a charitable organization donated the homestead to the disabled veteran at no cost to the veteran. The bill grants a surviving spouse of a veteran qualified for the exemption the same dollar amount of exemption on a subsequent homestead, if the surviving spouse has not remarried.

Appraisal process bills heard included HB 2777 by Rep. Ryan Guillen (R-Rio Grande City), which allows a property owner to appeal an order of an appraisal review board to justice courts in lieu of the district court if the amount in dispute is $10,000 or less. HB 3173, by Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston), requires that, if the appraised value of a property in a tax year is lowered by a district court order, the appraised value of the property is considered to be the appraised value of the property for that tax year and the next three tax years. Heard one week prior, HB 1712 by Rep. J.M.  Lozano (R-Kingsville) — entitling certain property that is used, constructed, acquired, stored or installed primarily as part of an offshore spill response containment system to a partial or total exemption from pollution control property taxation — was voted out favorably from committee. All other bills were left pending.