To the Editor:
With Gov. Greg Abbott including property tax relief in this special legislative session, the door has re-opened for getting relief to Harker Heights and Nolanville citizens for the disproportionate impact of the 100% Disabled Veterans tax exemption.
A question asked by one of state Rep. Brad Buckley’s peers in the committee hearing on his past bill to expand reimbursement went right to the heart of the matter: “How do we (the Legislature) know that relief is going to the citizens?”
The truth is that the current program does not give relief to the citizens and instead provides money to the city budget.
But it is the taxpaying citizens who carry the burden of a 100% tax exemption benefit in the form of a higher tax rate. The costs of this state-level benefit is not shared by all Texans, but rather a decreasing number of taxpayers, especially in Harker Heights and Nolanville.
State leaders spoke loudly when they purposely stripped out Rep. Buckley’s final-effort amendment and even he has since corroborated that fiscally conservative leaders aren’t interested in expanding payouts to cities.
Our leaders are interested in property tax relief to homeowners and here are two methods to ensure that expanded state relief directly turns into taxpayer relief:
First, cities that receive disproportionate payments should be required to count the state payment as tax revenue as they calculate their 3.5% threshold voter-approval-rates. Doing so ensures that monies received directly lead to lower property tax rates.
A second method is to mandate that any city that receives state relief payments be required to offer the local-option homestead exemption to at least a percentage level that monetarily equals the Texas relief payment.
This will ensure that the taxpayer homestead property owners can exempt up to 20% of the home’s appraised value as allowed under current Texas Tax Code.
No matter the path, these ideas communicate (and persuade?) to this conservative Legislature that the State of Texas is doing everything it can to ensure that the benefit it granted to 100% DVs is directly unburdened from fellow citizens.
Howard ‘Scot’ Arey