Other Voices

Proposition 1 brings property tax relief for Texas homeowners

Issue on Nov. 3 ballot would increase homestead exemption on school property taxes.
Issue on Nov. 3 ballot would increase homestead exemption on school property taxes. Star-Telegram

For far too many years, Texas homeowners have shouldered a disproportionate — and increasing — amount of the overall tax burden.

Not only do homeowners pay sales and other taxes, they also bear the brunt of rising property taxes. Homeowners deserve a break, and help is on the way.

In the Nov. 3 elections, Texans will vote on Proposition 1.

If approved, it will deliver approximately $1.24 billion in property tax relief by increasing the homestead exemption for school district taxes from $15,000 to $25,000.

This is long overdue.

The homestead exemption in our state hasn’t changed since 1997.

Over the same period, median home values in Texas have risen from about $86,000 to $186,000.

Those escalating values have led to higher tax bills, and property owners all over the state are feeling the pinch. Property tax bills are rising at a much faster pace than family incomes.

As the author of Proposition 1, I want to take this opportunity to clarify some of the aspects of this initiative that have generated questions to my office.

Voters should have all the facts before going to the polls, starting with how much each homeowner will save.

Texas homeowners can anticipate their savings, on average, to be $130 in the first year, according to state estimates.

It is important to note that savings will vary from district to district and must be framed in comparison to what the school property tax bill would have been under the current $15,000 homestead exemption.

The savings will add up over the lifetime of home ownership.

Many of you have asked how Proposition 1 impacts seniors and Texans with disabilities. It was our legislative intent to make sure these homeowners benefit from this legislation.

Already, there is an additional $10,000 homestead exemption for seniors and people with disabilities.

Proposition 1 maintains this separate $10,000 homestead exemption for seniors and disabled homeowners, while also providing them with the increased homestead exemption (raised to $25,000 from $15,000) available to all homeowners.

In addition, because tax relief for this population is currently provided through a tax freeze, Proposition 1 applies a proportional adjustment to the ceiling on school property taxes.

Questions are also coming in about the provisional tax bill arriving in mailboxes this month.

At the direction of the Legislature, these bills show homeowners two scenarios: what their tax obligation will be if Proposition 1 passes and if it fails.

It is important to note that the tax relief provided under Proposition 1 applies only to school district property tax, and that goes for all homeowners, regardless of their age.

The Legislature decided to cover the entire cost of this tax relief package, so education funding will continue at current levels.

Through Proposition 1, individual school districts are held harmless, and their state funding will not suffer.

Texans should also know that the Legislature passed SB 1760, which prohibits any local taxing authorities from raising property taxes without a supermajority vote of local governing boards.

This further protects homeowners from the consequences of any additional tax impositions.

Monday is the last day to register to vote in this election. I encourage you to learn all the facts before you head to the polls in order to make the best educated decision for you and your family.

More information about Proposition 1 is available on the Texas Legislative Council website.

This is the largest property tax relief package our state has seen in a very long time, so be sure and take part in this important election.

State Sen. Jane Nelson represents District 12, including portions of Tarrant and Denton counties. She is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.