First 2 amendments deal with homestead exemptions

Published 9:26 am Monday, October 19, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first installment in a series of articles provided by The League of Women Voters on seven proposed Texas Constitutional Amendments on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Texas voters will decide in the Nov. 3 election whether or not seven amendments proposed by the Texas Legislature should be added to the Texas Constitution. “Propositions 1 and 2 both provide increased property tax homestead exemptions” according to Elaine Wiant, President of the League of Women Voters of Texas.

“Given the significance of the issues and relative permanence of constitutional amendments, voters need to understand each of the propositions to cast an informed vote.” If a majority of those voting in the November 3 election support the propositions, they will become part of the Texas Constitution.

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Proposition 1

The official ballot language for Proposition 1 is “The constitutional amendment increasing the amount of the residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation for public school purposes from $15,000 to $25,000, providing for a reduction of the limitation on the total amount of ad valorem taxes that may be imposed for those purposes on the homestead of an elderly or disabled person to reflect the increased exemption amount, authorizing the legislature to prohibit a political subdivision that has adopted an optional residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation from reducing the amount of or repealing the exemption, and prohibiting the enactment of a law that imposes a transfer tax on a transaction that conveys fee simple title to real property.”

In short, Proposition 1 would raise the property tax homestead exemption from $15,000 to $25,000 for public school tax purposes. It would also give an additional $10,000 exemption to people 65 or older and disabled people. The state will be required to make up losses to local school districts, which is estimated to cost over $1.2 billion for 2015-2016.

Those in favor of Proposition 1 argue that cutting property taxes would stimulate the economy and provide tax relief to homeowners, especially to low-income homeowners because the exemption would be a higher percentage of the taxable value for a less expensive house. Those opposed argue that it would amount to only about $126 in annual tax savings for the average homeowner. They argue that a sales tax reduction would be better for the economy.

Proposition 2

The official ballot language for Proposition 2 is “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran who died before the law authorizing a residence homestead exemption for such a veteran took effect.”

Proposition 2 extends the property tax exemption that was granted to the surviving spouses of totally disabled veterans in 2011. The 2011 amendment applied only to the surviving spouses of totally disabled veterans who died on or after January 1, 2010. This amendment would include all surviving spouses of totally disabled veterans.

Those in favor of Proposition 2 argue that it makes sense to eliminate the distinction between the two classes of surviving spouses and provides tax relief for families of deceased disabled veterans. The argument against Proposition 2 is that it would cost local governments some tax revenue and might cause them to increase taxes for other taxpayers.

LWV Voter Guide Resources

The Texas League provides several additional resources to help voters prepare for the November 2015 Constitutional Amendment Election. A nonpartisan Voters Guide with ballot language, explanation, and balanced arguments for and against each proposition, plus information on photo ID and other voting requirements, is available on the Texas League website, , in both English and Spanish. Information is also available on the League’s interactive Voters Guide,, and in print through local Leagues and many libraries across the state.