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OPINION: Proposition 7 affects surviving spouses

Proposition 7 (HJR 125): “The constitutional amendment to allow the surviving spouse of a person who is disabled to receive a limitation on the school district ad valorem taxes on the spouse’s residence homestead if the spouse is 55 years of age or older at the time of the person’s death.”

Rep. Jake Ellzey (R) had this to say about the amendment, “The surviving spouse of a disabled homeowner should not be saddled with an unexpected large increase in their tax bill. That only magnifies the tragedy of the loss of their spouse and if they are on a fixed income it even further compounds their difficulties. If a couple has a disability exemption for their homestead, when the disabled person passes away, the surviving spouse loses the exemption. HJR125 protects the surviving spouse from the loss of an important benefit,” according to reformaustin.org

A “yes” vote supports amending the state constitution to allow the surviving spouse of a disabled individual to maintain a homestead property tax limit if the spouse is 55 years of age or older at the time of the death and remains at the homestead.

A “no” vote opposes amending the state constitution to allow the surviving spouse of a disabled individual to maintain a homestead property tax limit if the spouse is 55 years of age or older at the time of the death and remains at the homestead, according to ballotpedia.org

This would allow the surviving spouse of a disabled individual to maintain a homestead property tax limit if the spouse is 55 years of age or older at the time of the death and remains at the homestead. The amendment would also add a temporary provision that would refund taxes to spouses of a deceased disabled individual for the 2020 and 2021 tax years that exceed the amount that should have been paid with the tax limit.

Currently, disabled individuals may apply for a $10,000 homestead tax exemption and a limit on school district property taxes. In order to qualify for the disabled exemption and tax limit, the individual must also qualify to receive disability benefits under the Federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Program administered by the Social Security Administration. Property taxes on the residence of a disabled individual or their surviving spouse do not increase from the year the individual qualifies for the exemption and tax limit.

The temporary provision would expire on January 1, 2023.

TEMPORARY PROVISION.

(a) The changes to the law made by Section 1, Chapter 1284 (H.B. 1313), Acts of the 86th Legislature, Regular Session, 2019, are validated.

(b) An action taken by a tax official in reliance on Section 1, Chapter 1284 (H.B. 1313), Acts of the 86th Legislature, Regular Session, 2019, is validated.

(c) A collector who collected school district ad valorem taxes from a surviving spouse who, under the law as amended by Section 1, Chapter 1284 (H.B. 1313), Acts of the 86th Legislature, Regular Session, 2019, was entitled to receive a limitation on school district taxes on the spouse’s residence homestead shall calculate the school district taxes that should have been imposed for the 2020 and 2021 tax years taking into account the change in law made by that Act and, if the taxes collected by the collector for those tax years exceed the taxes that should have been imposed as calculated under this subsection, the collector shall refund to the surviving spouse the difference between the taxes collected and the taxes that should have been imposed as calculated under this subsection.

(d)AAThis temporary provision expires January 1, 2023.