AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Early voting for the May 7 election starts next Monday, where Texans will vote on two amendments to the state constitution, as well as other measures depending on locality.
Both of the constitutional amendments garnered unanimous bipartisan support from Texas lawmakers, who say the propositions will help relieve the high property taxes Texans are experiencing as the housing market continues to boom.
Proposition 1 would freeze the frozen school property tax bills for the elderly and Texans with disabilities starting in 2023. It would also lower their school property tax bills year after year.
In the 2019 session, lawmakers passed school funding legislation that could conceivably push the tax rate below the level it was when a homeowner had their taxes frozen. Prop. 1 aims to change the state’s constitution to allow the rates to drop for those homeowners, if those rates drop below the levels where they were frozen. The proposition does not allow for rates to increase beyond where they’re already frozen.
Proposition 2 would increase the homestead exemption Texans can take on their school district property taxes from $25,000 to $40,000. That would begin Jan 1, 2022.
Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, authored both of the proposed constitutional amendments and said the Proposition 2 will provide long-term relief to property owners in Texas.
“The homes that qualify get an extra $15,000 exemption, which translates to about $175 per year savings for the lifetime that they that anybody has a home. And that’s thousands of dollars of savings over the life of a homeowner in Texas,” he said.
Actual savings would depend on local tax rates.
Although small, that relief would be welcomed by property owners like Brent Grablachoff. He bought his home in Williamson County in May 2021 and when his appraisal came in this week, his home’s value nearly doubled.
“I almost fell out of my chair. I saw a 52% increase from the assessed value in 2021 to this year in 2022,” he said. “I wasn’t planning on forking up that much extra, thousands of dollars a year.”
Texas has a 10% cap on appraisal increases for properties with homestead exemptions, but Grablachoff did not qualify since he bought the house in May last year. To qualify in Texas, the home’s owner must use this home as their principal residence starting on Jan. 1 of that tax year.
Grablachoff isn’t the only homeowner experiencing sticker shock from his property tax appraisal. The Travis County Appraisal District found that residential properties’ values increased 56 percent, and commercial properties increased 54 percent.
Voters can approve or deny these tax relief propositions on May 7, before final tax bills are calculated.
Click here to view a sample ballot for Travis County.