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Election information: Proposition 4

By Victoria Advocate
Oct. 12, 2013 at 5:12 a.m.


Editor's Note: The Advocate is offering information about the upcoming constitutional amendment election Nov. 5. This feature, provided by the League of Women Voters, will look at the pros and cons of each of the nine amendments on the ballot. This is a look at Proposition 4.

Official ballot language

The constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization.

Explanation

Currently, the Texas Constitution provides that a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran or the veteran's surviving spouse is entitled to an exemption from ad valorem taxation of the market value of the disabled veteran's resident homestead, subject to certain restrictions.

This proposed amendment and its enabling legislation, HB 97, would provide a similar exemption to a partially disabled veteran or surviving spouse, if the homestead has been donated by a charitable organization at no cost to the veteran. The amount of the exemption would be a percentage of the market value of the residence homestead that is equal to the percentage of disability of the veteran. Proposition 4 would allow the Legislature to provide additional eligibility requirements for the exemption and would not affect whether a qualified disabled veteran was entitled to another exemption for veterans for which he or she may qualify. It also allows partially disabled veterans to be added to the list of individuals authorized to pay property taxes in installments as provided by current law.

Arguments for

• Texas charitable organizations have given homes to disabled veterans, but in some cases, the veteran is unable to pay the property taxes, resulting in an unintended consequence of foreclosure. These veterans have sacrificed for our country and are deserving of help. The cost of the exemption is small because only a dozen or so homes per year are donated cost-free to disabled veterans.

• Partially disabled veterans who receive these homes are not likely to return to full employment and need help with their taxes.

Arguments against

• Singling out one group for special tax exemption status, even though deserving, raises issues of uniformity in taxation and could open the door to continued erosion of the tax base.

• If the purpose of the bill is to help partially disabled veterans keep their homes while they are unable to pay property taxes, the exemption should not be permanent. It should expire when the veteran can afford to pay property taxes.

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