On Oct. 18, the Texas State Legislature voted to refer to the ballot a constitutional amendment that would increase the homestead exemption for school district property taxes from $25,000 to $40,000. Voters will decide the measure on the May 2022 ballot. It would take effect for the 2022 tax year. The Legislative Budget Board estimated that the increase would cost the state $355 million in fiscal year 2023.
The amendment was filed as Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2) on Oct. 18, the last day of the legislature’s third special session this year. It was approved by both chambers unanimously. The enabling legislation, Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), also received final approval on the last day of the session.
State Senator Paul Bettencourt (R), the author of the amendment, said, “People see the need for property tax relief, and Texans are going to cry out for that continuously. This is a great way to bring that home to all of the taxpayers of Texas.”
Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner (D) said, “Texas House Democrats have been fighting for an increase in the homestead exemption for decades. While Republicans pushed for property tax rate cuts that largely benefit corporations, we have championed legislation that puts money directly into Texas homeowners’ pockets. Today, our longstanding efforts pay off under SJR 2. We are grateful our Republican colleagues have joined us to provide meaningful property tax relief to Texas homeowners.”
Texas voters last approved an increase to the homestead tax exemption in 2015 with the passage of Proposition 1. The amendment increased the exemption from $15,000 to $25,000. It was approved by a margin of 86.4% to 13.6%.
This was the second amendment the legislature referred to the ballot for the election on May 7, 2022. Texas voters will also decide on an amendment that would authorize the state legislature to reduce the limitation on total ad valorem taxes imposed on the homesteads of elderly or disabled residents for school maintenance and operations to reflect any statutory reduction from the preceding tax year. The two ballot measures are the first to be featured on an even-numbered year statewide ballot since 2014. Between 1985 and 2020, 10 ballot measures have appeared on even-numbered year Texas ballots compared to 251 ballot measures on odd-numbered year statewide ballots during that same period.