Texas Voters Will Decide: Whether to Approve Property Tax Exemptions Related to Military Service
Austin, TX - It will be up to Texas voters to decide in the November 5, 2013, election whether or not nine amendments proposed by the Texas Legislature should be added to the Texas Constitution. "The issues at stake affect all Texans now and in the future, from property tax exemptions to funding the water state plan" according to LWV-Texas Education Fund Chair, Linda Krefting. "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."
Two proposed amendments involve property tax exemptions related to military service. Proposition 1 on the ballot would allow the surviving spouse of a member of the U.S. armed services who was killed in action to be exempt from paying local property taxes based on all or part of the total appraised value of the homestead.
Representative Chris Turner, the legislative author, says "Proposition 1 will provide a 100 percent property tax exemption to the surviving spouses of service members killed in service to country. It's a small but meaningful way we can help and thank the Texas families who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our nation and our freedoms."
Those with reservations about whether voters should approve Proposition 1 are concerned that local governments would lose revenue, especially in cities and towns with large numbers of military families, and might have to increase taxes for other taxpayers.
Proposition 4 on the ballot would provide a partial homestead property tax 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 percentage of the exemption would be equal to the percentage of disability of the veteran. Veterans who are 100 percent disabled, and their surviving spouses, are already eligible for a 100 percent exemption.
Legislative author, Representative Charles Perry, says Proposition 4 "removes barriers communities and organizations face when helping out our disabled veterans by taking away the tax burden associated with the gift of a home" allowing those who sacrificed defending our freedoms to heal focusing "on their dreams, career and family without the worry of losing their home."
Others might be concerned that 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 a majority of those voting in the November 5 election support these propositions they will become part of the Texas Constitution. Each of the other seven propositions on the November 5 ballot will be addressed in a weekly series "Texas Voters Will Decide" leading up to the start of early voting on October 21.
The nonpartisan LWV-Texas Education Fund Voters Guide for the Constitutional Amendment Election with the ballot language, an explanation, and balanced arguments for and against each proposition plus helpful information on the new photo ID requirement and other aspects of voting will be available on www.lwvtexas.org and www.VOTE411.org (in English by Sept. 23 and in Spanish by Sept. 30) and distributed in print by local Leagues and through many libraries. A Constitutional Amendment page on www.lwvtexas.org provides additional information on the constitutional amendment process and proposals considered by the 2013 Texas Legislature.
For voters not already registered to vote, the deadline to register is October 7. Voters can check to their registration by calling the county voter registrar or online at https://team1.sos.state.tx.us/voterws/viw/faces/SearchSelectionVoter.jsp. Voters needing to register can complete and mail the application form at http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/reqvr.shtml.
Early voting is from October 21 to November 1. Voters can vote at any county location during early voting. Election Day is November 5 with polls open from 7 am to 7 pm.