New Homestead Exemption Requirements Causing Confusion for Residents

April 17, 2012

The Harris County Appraisal District is reminding taxpayers that a major change in state law is making it more important than ever for residents to submit the proper paperwork when applying for a homestead exemption.

Mistakes in correctly completing the new, state-mandated procedures for obtaining a homestead exemption is forcing the district to return many more applications to homeowners than in recent years, according to HCAD Chief Appraiser Jim Robinson.

“State law now requires much more documentation from homeowners seeking the homestead exemption in order to dramatically reduce the number of fraudulent claims that past years have seen,” Robinson said.  “The appraisal district has no discretion that would allow it to waive the provisions of state law.”

As a result, HCAD has released a reminder for homeowners who believe they qualify for one of several categories of homestead exemptions. The law that governs the disclosure and documentation requirements was passed by the most recent session of the Texas Legislature and became effective September 1, 2011.

Here are the documents, a copy of which must be provided to the central appraisal district along with the formal application:

  • A Copy of One’s Valid Texas Driver’s License:  The address on the driver’s license must be the same as the address of the home for which the exemption is claimed.

If the applicant does not have a driver’s license, then the applicant must provide an official Texas ID card issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety.  Likewise, the address noted on this official Texas ID card must be the same as the address of the home for which the exemption is claimed.

  • A Copy of One’s Vehicle Registration Receipt: The address on the registration receipt must be the same as the address of the home for which the exemption is claimed.

If the applicant does not own a motor vehicle, then the applicant must provide a sworn, notarized affidavit called the “Non-Ownership of Motor Vehicle Affidavit” with the homestead exemption.  The form for this document is included in the homestead exemption application packet.

If the applicant provides an affidavit noting the lack of ownership of a motor vehicle, the application must also provide a copy of a current utility bill showing the bill is in the same name as the applicant.  The address on the utility bill must be identical to the address of the home for which the exemption is claimed.

“Every address on every document required to support the homestead exemption application must be the same address as that of the home for which the exemption is claimed,” Robinson said.  “The appraisal district does not have the authority under state law to relax or waive these legal requirements established by the Texas Legislature.”

The changes in required documentation include all new applications including those that transition for over-65, disability, or any reason that necessitates a change from the previously granted homestead exemption.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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