Beginning in September, property owners seeking a homestead exemption in Texas will need to comply with a new application process, Brown County Chief Appraiser Doran Lemke said.
The recent session of the Texas Legislature imposed rigorous new standards of mandatory disclosure for property owners who apply for any one of several kinds of homestead exemptions, effective Sept. 1.
In order to receive a homestead exemption for property tax purposes, applicants must now provide a copy of their Texas driver's license or Texas state-issued identification card and a copy of their vehicle registration receipt with their application for a homestead exemption.
In addition, the addresses shown on each of the documents must be the same as the address for which the homestead exemption is sought, Lemke said.
Applicants who do not own a vehicle will be required to submit a notarized affidavit certifying that fact, and provide a copy of a current bill received from a utility company. The address of the utility bill must be the same as the address on the application for a homestead exemption.
"The legislature has closed loopholes in disclosure that allowed some citizens to obtain homestead exemptions on more than one property," Lemke said. "The legislature has also authorized central appraisal districts to gain access to the database of the Texas Department of Public Safety so that differences in addresses reported for driver's license and property tax reasons can be audited electronically."
The new requirement that takes effect Sept. 1 is required for any one of the several ways property owners can qualify for a residential property homestead. These include general residential exemptions, over-65 exemptions, disability exemptions, 100 percent disabled veterans exemptions, extensions of exemptions for a surviving spouse and exemptions for manufactured (mobile) homes.
Each of the programs have additional requirements for qualification, Lemke said. However, the common standard is that all such applicants must provide the additional documentation as noted before regarding a driver's license, Texas issued identification card, motor vehicle registration and utility billing receipt.
For those seeking homestead exemption status on a manufactured home, the applicant must provide the following documentation: statement of ownership and location issued by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, and a copy of the purchase contract or payment receipt that the applicant is the purchaser of the manufactured home, or a sworn affidavit that the application is the owner of the manufactured home, the seller of the manufactured home did not provide the applicant with a purchase contract and the applicant could not locate the seller after making a good-faith effort.
The modified homestead exemption form and the affidavits mentioned will be posted on Sept. 1 on the website of the Brown County Appraisal District, www.brown-cad.org.
Links to where to obtain information on driver's licenses, Texas issued state identification cards and vehicle information will also be shown on the appraisal district's website, Lemke said.
Applications dated and submitted to the appraisal district by Aug. 31 will be processed under pre-Sept. 1 guidelines.