Legislative Updates Regarding Property Taxes

House Bill 394
Amends Tax Code Section 25.027
Effective September 1, 2015
Relating to the information in ad valorem tax appraisal records that may not be
posted on the Internet by an appraisal district.
Prohibits appraisal districts from posting information on the Internet that would
indicate a property owner’s age, including information that a property owner is 65
or older.
House Bill 992
Amends Tax Code Section 11.131
Effective January 1, 2016, but only if the applicable constitutional amendment
passes in November elections.
Relating to the exemption from ad valorem taxation of the total appraised value
of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled
veteran.
A disabled veteran’s surviving spouse is entitled to continue to benefit from the
special disabled veterans’ ad valorem homestead exemption after the disabled
veteran dies if the spouse has not remarried, the property was the surviving spouse’s
homestead when the disabled veteran died, and the property remains the surviving
spouse’s homestead. This bill extends this benefit to surviving spouses of disabled
veterans who died before the disabled veterans’ special exemption was created.
House Bill 1022
Amends Tax Code Section 11.13 Effective January 1, 2016
Relating to the eligibility for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of the residence
homestead of certain persons with a life estate in the homestead property.
Extends the standard homestead exemption to an owner’s surviving spouse if he
or she has a life estate in the property.
House Bill 1463
Amends Tax Code Sections 1.07 and 11.43
Effective September 1, 2015
Relating to the procedure for canceling an exemption from ad valorem taxation
of the residence homestead of an individual who is 65 years of age or older.
Requires that before an appraisal district cancels a residence homestead exemption
for someone 65 or older, the appraiser must first give written notice to the
owner with a form on which the owner may verify his or her qualification for the exemption (with a postage prepaid return envelope). If no response is received in 60 days, the appraiser may cancel the exemption after another 30-day waiting period but only after making reasonable effort to locate the owner and determine his or her qualification for the exemption. A second notice with a bold font notice of the potential cancellation (meeting requirements set forth in the bill) constitutes reasonable efforts.

House Bill 1464
Adds Tax Code Section 23.551; Amends Tax Code Sections 1.07, 23.43, 23.46,
23.54, and 23.55; Amends Transportation Code Section 521.049
Effective September 1, 2015
Relating to the procedure for determining that certain land is no longer eligible
for appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes as agricultural or open-space land.
Requires that before an appraisal district cancels an agricultural or open-space
exemption for land owned by someone 65 or older, the appraiser must follow procedures
substantially similar to those required under House Bill 1463 with respect
to homestead exemptions for persons 65 or older.
House Bill 3951
Adds Tax Code Section 34.011; Amends Tax Code Section 34.015; Amends Civil
Practice and Remedies Code Section 34.0445
Effective January 1, 2016
Relating to the eligibility of persons to participate in an ad valorem tax sale of real
property; creating a criminal offense.
Allows a county commissioners court to require that, for a person to be eligible
to bid at a tax foreclosure sale of real property the person must be registered as a
bidder with the county assessor-collector before the sale begins. The county assessor-collector
is empowered to adopt rules governing such registration, requiring a
registrant to
* designate the person’s name and address;
* provide valid ID;
* provide written proof of authority to bid on another person’s behalf, if
applicable;
* provide any additional information the assessor-collector reasonably requires;
and
* execute, at least annually, a statement on a form provided by the assessor-collector
that there are no delinquent ad valorem taxes owed by the registrant to
the county or any taxing unit in the county.
If the county commissioners court adopts this requirement, then a person may
not bid at a tax foreclosure sale unless the assessor-collector has issued the person
a registration statement.

House Joint Resolution 75
Amends Section 1-b of Article VIII of the Texas Constitution.
Effective January 1, 2016, if passed by Texas voters in November 3, 2015,
election.
Proposing a 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. Would amend the Texas Constitution to enable the extension of homestead exemption rights to spouses of disabled veterans as contemplated in House Bill
992

Senate Bill 46
Amends Government Code Sections 552.155 and 552.222
Effective September 1, 2015
Relating to the confidentiality of certain property tax appraisal photographs.
Exempts photographs of the interior of real property improvements from disclosure
under public information laws and makes the same confidential. (One fear
being that thieves may use public information requests to scope buildings.) The government
must still disclose the photograph, however, to a person who had an ownership
interest in the improvement at the time the photograph was taken and to the
parties to a tax appraisal protest (though the photograph remains confidential in the
parties’ possession and may not be disclosed or used for any other purpose).

Senate Bill 833
Amends Tax Code Section 11.13
Effective June 19, 2015
Relating to the continuation of a residence homestead exemption from ad
valorem taxation while the owner is temporarily absent because of military service.
Texas law protects a person from losing a residence homestead exemption due to
temporary absence for less than two years if the person does not establish another
homestead and is absent due to military service in the U.S. armed forces. Prior to
this bill the military service causing the absence had to be outside the U.S. This bill
extends this military service protection to absences for service within the U.S.
Senate Bill 1420
Amends Tax Code Section 25.19
Effective January 1, 2016
Relating to notices of appraised value sent to property owners by the chief
appraisers of appraisal districts.
Requires an appraisal district to give notice to a homeowner if “an exemption or
partial exemption approved for the property for the preceding year is canceled or
reduced for the current year.”