An important tax law that took effect in Texas on Jan. 1 will allow the spouses of fully disabled veterans to continue to receive property tax breaks even after the veterans die.
Under the previous law, only veterans ruled to be completely disabled due to military-related injuries were not required to pay property taxes. But in the new year, Texas tax agencies will not collect from those veterans’ widowed spouses, either.
The homestead exemption, as it is called, is attached to the main residence of the veteran and will be discontinued should the widowed spouse marry again. As long as the spouse doesn’t move to a more expensive dwelling, the homestead exemption will apply to subsequent houses.
Voters last fall approved the law, which requires an amendment to the Texas Constitution. By 2016, the law will have taken an estimated $25 million from the state tax rolls, reducing revenue to local governments and the state.
Despite the cost, representatives of veterans’ groups and elected officials hailed the new law. Many military spouses cannot afford to stay in their homes without the exemption, according to veterans’ groups. And a state senator said the cost cannot compare with the service the military men and women gave to their country and the injuries they incurred.
Close to 25,000 of the 300,000 disabled veterans living in Texas have been labeled as 100 percent disabled because of service-related injuries. About 65 percent of the fully disabled veterans are between 55 and 75 years old, according to state statistics. But with new injuries resulting every day from the ongoing war in Afghanistan, there will likely be more veterans who need to take advantage of this crucial benefit.
Source: Associated Press, “A new law will give tax relief to spouses of disabled veterans,” Jim Vertuno, Dec. 31, 2011