From the Office of State Senator Leticia Van de Putte

For Immediate Release
April 23, 2012
Contact: Lee Nichols, 512-463-0126

Van de Putte on AG Opinion on Surviving Spouse Benefits

(Austin) — Last week, Attorney General Greg Abbott released an opinion (GA-0918) clarifying the terms of eligibility for surviving spouses of 100% disabled veterans to receive a homestead property tax exemption given to disabled veterans in 2009.

In 2009, enabling legislation was passed to provide fully disabled veterans with a full exemption. In the 2010 interim, veteran organizations asked that, in the event of a veteran's death, the exemption be transferable to the veteran's spouse. Without this transferability, surviving spouses could get hit with an the increase in property tax bills at a financially vulnerable time. Thus, in 2011 Senator Van de Putte authored Senate Joint Resolution 14 which was the enabling legislation to allow the transferal of the 100% property tax exemption to surviving spouses of 100% disabled veterans. This constitutional amendment was protected from being vetoed and was sent directly to Texas voters, who voted in support of the new law.

Due to the misinterpretation of the new law by some appraisal districts, an Attorney General opinion was requested to receive clarity on the eligibility of surviving spouses to receive the exemption. Some districts were interpreting the law to mean that only the surviving spouse of fully disabled veterans who died after Jan. 1, 2012 would be eligible to receive the benefit, which was not the intent of Senator Van de Putte. The Attorney General agreed that no such limitation was proper. If a 100% disabled veteran died after 2009, the surviving spouse is eligible to receive the allotted property tax exemption.

"I am extremely pleased that Attorney General Abbott recognized that the deciding factor for eligibility is the status of the spouse on or after Jan. 1, 2012, not the date of the veteran's death," said Senator Van de Putte. "The point of the legislation was to prevent surviving spouses from losing their home, which would require the transfer of the exemption."