84(R) - 2015
House Ways & Means
House Ways & Means
Relating to the eligibility for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of the residence homestead of certain persons with a life estate in the homestead property.
A fiscal note dated March 30, 2015, indicates that passage of the bill would expand the definition of a residence homestead to include residences occupied by a surviving spouse holding a life estate in the property making these residences eligible for various property tax homestead exemptions. These additional homestead exemptions would create a cost to the Foundation School Fund through the operation of the school finance formulas. Because the number of surviving spouses holding a life estate in residential homesteads who would qualify for a homestead exemption under House Bill 1022 bill is unknown, the cost of the bill cannot be estimated.
House Bill 1022 would amend Section 11.13 (j) (1) of the Tax Code to change the definition of "residence homestead" and include an owner's surviving spouse who has a life estate in the property in the list of possible persons that can occupy the residence homestead as their principal residence.
Vote Recommendation Notes
A life estate is a form of ownership in real property that ends with the death of the person who holds the life estate in a property.
Since the surviving spouse of the owner of a property, who has a life estate in the deceased spouse's property, becomes the de facto owner of the property, it seems only fair that the surviving spouse be considered for the exemption for which the former owner (the deceased spouse) was eligible.
Our support for this legislation should not be construed as support for the practice of providing special tax exemptions that are not broad-based. Our support in this instance is simply to continue a legal exemption following the death of a spouse.
We support House Bill 1022 as it supports spousal property rights.