By Rebecca LaFlure and Jade Ortego
Fort Hood Herald
Vietnam veteran Richard Mangoux won't have to pay property taxes for this year, thanks to a new tax exemption approved by the Texas Legislature.
And he knows exactly how he'll spend the extra cash.
"I have a 3-and-a-half-month-old granddaughter, and I'm going to spoil her rotten," Mangoux said, a retired sergeant major in the U.S. Army. Mangoux, of Harker Heights, served 30 years in the Army and three tours in Vietnam.
House Bill 3613 allows military veterans who are totally disabled or considered unemployable by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as exempt from paying property taxes.
The bill has been widely well received by the veteran community, but has caused some local city officials to wonder how the legislation will affect their budgets.
Mangoux was approved for the tax exemption on Tuesday and estimates he'll save around $1,800 a year.
"It's great," Mangoux said. "Veterans will now have more money to pay for work around the house, a car payment, a vacation, whatever. It helps a lot of people."
The legislation has been a long time coming, said Theron Johnson, commander of Killeen's Disabled American Veterans chapter.
"I think it's about time a lot of places do this," Johnson said, a retired Army sergeant major. "I know there's a lot of them (veterans) that have a hard time getting by. ... Every little bit helps, especially nowadays."
Marvin Hahn, Bell County's chief tax appraiser, said that figures are not yet available on how many have applied for the exemption.
People started calling about qualifying as soon as Gov. Rick Perry signed the bill, Hahn said.
Several come into his office weekly to apply.
Hahn said that he identified about 950 who are probably qualified based on earlier claims to partial tax exemption. His office sent out notices to alert them of the new bill.
"We're encouraging them to come in and sign up as soon as they possibly can. ... We want everyone who's qualified to take advantage of this," he said.
Hahn said that veterans should know that tax exemption applies only to property on which they live. They can apply for partial exemption on additional property as part of Section 11.22 of the Texas Tax Code, he said.
In order to get the exemption on taxes that go out in October, you should apply by mid-September at the latest, Hahn said.
Claimants should bring an application form as well as a letter from the VA that states that they are 100 percent disabled and/or unemployable to a Bell County tax appraisal office.
Two are located at 301 Priest Drive in Killeen and 411 E. Central Ave. in Belton.
Application forms can be found at http://bellcad.org/forms.htm.