From the Office of State Senator John Carona

CAPITOL NEWS

by Senator John Carona, District 16

On August 9, you will be asked to vote on a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution, which reads: "The constitutional amendment providing school property tax relief by increasing the residence homestead exemption by $10,000 and providing for the transfer of the tax limitation to another qualified homestead for persons over 65 and a reduction in taxes on homesteads subject to the limitation."

After reading those words, I am sure that many of you are still left wondering exactly what they mean. I would like to take this opportunity to provide a brief explanation of the measure on which you will be asked to vote.

Many of you probably remember the property tax relief effort undertaken during the recent legislative session. This measure is the result of that effort. It has two major components.

The first thing this measure would do would be to permanently increase the amount of the constitutional residential homestead exemption from the current level of $5000 to $15,000. The effect of this would be to reduce the taxable value of your residence by an additional $10,000 for purposes of calculating school property taxes.

The state would reimburse school districts for any revenue loss that results from the exemption increase. This would initially be funded with the $1 billion budget surplus from the past biennium. If approved by the voters, the higher exemption will take effect starting in the 1997 tax year.

The second part of this proposition would allow a proportional amount of the age 65-and-older school tax freeze to be transferred to another homestead. This means that persons aged 65-and-older who currently have a tax freeze on their school property taxes could move to a new residence and essentially "move" the freeze with them. The amount of their new school property taxes would be the same percent of the value of their new home as they were paying on their former residence.

Persons who currently receive the age 65-and-older school tax freeze would also receive the additional $10,000 residential homestead exemption, whether or not they transfer the age 65-and-older freeze to a new homestead.

If you have any additional questions on this measure or any other matter, please feel free to contact me by writing to P.O. Box 12068, Austin, TX 78711 or by calling 1-800-662-0334 (Austin), 214-265-8963 (Dallas), or 972-864-2255 (Garland).

I will look forward to seeing you at the polls on August 9!

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