Senator Carona's Email Update
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EMAIL UPDATE

March 30, 2010

WHAT'S NEW . . .

• As reported in the Student Opportunities section of the January 2010 Email Update, the Texas Armed Services Scholarship Program was established by the Legislature in 2009 to encourage students to participate in the armed services. The deadline for applications has been extended into April. Applicants must be recommended by their State Senator or State Representative. I will be recommending one student, who meets the requirements, to receive this scholarship of up to $10,000.00. All qualified and interested students should submit a letter to me by April 9 expressing their interest and must include complete contact information (address, email, phone), their current GPA, their SAT/ACT score(s), current class ranking, school of intent and their willingness to enter into an agreement with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (see requirements). The applicant finally recommended will also be required to provide their social security number and date of birth. If you have any questions, please contact my Dallas District office at 214-378-5751 or annette.ratliff@senate.state.tx.us.

• The Comptroller's office will be administering an appliance rebate program, funded by federal stimulus dollars, for Texans who purchase Energy Star rated appliances. The program is time-sensitive and requires you to first make a "Rebate Reservation" beginning April 5. The appliance purchase period is from April 16 through April 25. If you are planning to purchase/replace any major household appliances, A/C system or water heater, you may want to consider taking advantage of the rebate program. The Comptroller's website has detailed information on the program, including eligibility requirements and specific dates.

• The primary runoff election date is April 13. Early voting will run from April 5 through April 9. If you voted in the Republican or Democratic primary on March 2, you may vote only in the runoff election for the same primary. If you did not vote in a primary on March 2, you may participate in either runoff election, but only one. Visit the Dallas County Elections Department for more information on early voting dates, times and locations, as well as for election day polling locations and sample ballots.

FOCUS . . .

There are a number of property tax exemptions available to Texas residents. This month, I am highlighting some of the exemptions for which you or your family may qualify.

General Residence Exemption
You may qualify for this exemption if:

  1. you owned this property on January 1, and
  2. you occupied the property as your principal residence on January 1, and
  3. you or your spouse have not claimed a residence homestead exemption on any other property.

65 or Older Exemption
If you are 65 years of age or older you qualify for this exemption. You cannot claim the disability exemption if you choose to claim this exemption.

Disability Exemption
You qualify for this exemption if you are eligible for payment of disability benefits under the federal Old Age, Survivor's and Disability Insurance Act or if you are considered disabled as defined by this Act. Documentation must be provided to receive this exemption.

100% Disabled Veteran Exemption
Under a measure I sponsored, you qualify for a 100% Disabled Veteran homestead exemption if you receive from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA):

  1. 100% disability compensation due to a service-connected disability or
  2. a rating of 100% percent disabled or a determination of individual unemployability from the VA.

Documentation from the VA must be submitted to prove that a veteran qualifies under these guidelines.

55 or Older Surviving Spouse of a Person Who Received the 65 or Older Exemption
You qualify for this exemption if you are 55 years of age or older on the date your spouse died and your deceased spouse was receiving the age 65 or older tax exemption on this residence homestead or would have applied and qualified for the exemption in the year of the spouse's death.

In addition to the above listed exemptions, you may qualify for other exemptions and/or credits. You may wish to contact your local appraisal district to determine your eligibility for such exemptions. The Comptroller's Property Tax division may provide other helpful information. In Dallas County, the Dallas Central Appraisal District provides copies of forms online and other important calendar information.

Applications for a residence homestead exemption are due between January 1 and April 30 annually. You may file a late homestead exemption if you file it no later than one year after the tax delinquency date. If the chief appraiser grants your application exemption, you do not need to reapply annually, unless the chief appraiser sends you a new application asking you to reapply.

Finally, Dallas County property owners will begin receiving "Real Property Notices of Appraised Value" around April 30. This is the notice of the valuation of your property value for taxation purposes. If you wish to protest the value of your property (not the taxes) with the appraisal district, the deadline is June 1, 2010. If you wish to protest the tax rates (the taxes) you should visit your city council, school board and county commissioners during the summer months as they prepare their budgets and set the tax rates by September.

DID YOU KNOW . . . ?

• The Department of Family and Protective Services provides a helpful website for parents looking for childcare. This website, http://www.txchildcaresearch.org, routinely updates a list of licensed childcare providers in the state and includes the results of their recent inspections.

• The Texas Department of Transportation is posting information on major lane closures in the Dallas area online.

STUDENT OPPORTUNITIES . . .

• Applications for the 2010 Don't Mess With Texas Scholarship are due April 16, 2010. This scholarship recognizes high-school seniors who have taken a leadership role to prevent litter in their schools and communities. One $3,000 scholarship and two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to students planning on attending a two or four-year university in Texas.

IN CLOSING . . .

As you are enjoying our long awaited spring weather, don't forget to return your 2010 Census form to help make Texas count, as well as to avoid having a census worker call on your doorstep!


Sincerely,

John Carona
State Senator - District 16
http://www.carona.senate.state.tx.us/

Capitol Office District Offices
P.O. Box 12068
Austin, TX 78711
512-463-0116
800-662-0334
512-463-3135 (fax)
john.carona@senate.state.tx.us
8080 N. Central Expy.
Suite 1440, LB 44
Dallas, TX 75206
214-378-5751
214-378-5739 (fax)
5401 N. Central Expy.
Suite 300
Dallas, TX 75205
214-521-3884
214-953-1886 (fax)

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