The application process for a homestead exemption in Texas is about to grow more complex. Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature approved new standards of mandatory disclosure for any one of several kinds of homestead exemptions. Beginning on September 1, 2011, those new rules go into effect.
Prior to September 1, a homestead exemption was relatively easy to obtain; a property owner simply filed an application. Now, home buyers will have to follow new rules and provide more proof they are eligible for the claimed exemption.
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, according to the Harris County Appraisal District.
Those 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 on the utility bill must be the same as the address on the application for a homestead exemption.
The new requirement that takes effect on September 1 is required for any one of the several ways property owners can qualify for a residential property homestead. These include the following:
- General residential exemption
- Over-65 exemption
- Disability exemption
- 100% disabled veterans exemption
- Extension of exemption for a surviving spouse
- Exemption for manufactured (mobile) home
Each of the programs cited above have additional requirements for qualification. However, the common standard is that all such applicants must provide the additional documentation as noted before regarding 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 also provide documentation as noted below:
- Statement of ownership and location issued by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
- 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 applicant 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
In order to avoid confusion, the modified homestead exemption form and the referenced affidavits will be posted on the effective date of the new legislation (September 1) on the website of the Harris County Appraisal District at www.hcad.org.
Applications dated and submitted to HCAD by August 31, 2011 will be processed under the pre-September 1 guidelines.