January 6, 2017
Cities, counties and other local governments would have another way to reduce property taxes for homeowners under legislation filed by Sen. Kirk Watson on Friday.
Senate Bill 418 and its companion constitutional amendment, SJR 29, are aimed at improving affordability for homeowners in Austin and beyond by giving cities and counties the option to provide a flat-amount property tax exemption for homeowners.
“We need to give cities and counties every available tool to reduce property taxes for homeowners and improve affordability while retaining the authority to pick what option works best for the local community,” Sen. Watson said.
School districts in Texas are currently required to offer a $25,000 flat homestead exemption. But other local governments only have the option of providing a percentage-based homestead exemption of up to 20 percent, which has the effect of providing a greater benefit to those who own high-value homes. The lack of options has deterred many local governments from providing any homestead exemption at all.
“This change would ensure that property tax relief is directed at the homeowners who need it most,” Sen. Watson said.
In 2015, Sen. Watson passed similar legislation out of the Texas Senate. Changes made to the previous legislation ensure that commercial taxpayers and renters do not the bear the burden of reducing property taxes for homeowners.