Lawsuit Filed to Protect Homeowners’ Tax Cuts

AUSTIN, September 29, 2016 – Attorney General Ken Paxton today intervened in a property tax lawsuit against Kilgore Independent School District, explaining that the district violated state law and the Texas Constitution when it repealed the district’s local option homestead exemption. Attorney General Paxton filed a similar intervention against the White Deer Independent School District on September 15.

The Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1 and Senate Joint Resolution 1 in May 2015 with near universal support—138 votes in the House (with no votes against) and 25 in the Senate. That same year, 86% of voters ratified the amendment—one of the highest amendment margins in recent history. The new law provided a much needed property tax reduction to homesteaders in Texas with no downside to school districts since the Legislature paid for the tax breaks in the state budget. Still, school districts such as Kilgore Independent School District chose to reduce or repeal their local option homestead exemption and assess homeowners a tax rate that is in violation of the law.

“Local governments cannot be allowed to simply ignore laws that they do not like,” Attorney General Paxton said. “This is a blatant attempt by a school district to take away from Texas homeowners, without their vote or consent, what rightfully belongs to them – their own money. I am confident that the local taxpayers and the State will prevail in this lawsuit and the suits to come.”

Upon the filing of the lawsuit, Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), who authored the bill, said: “SB 1 clearly stated that the tax relief approved last session was over and above any local option homestead exemption. Implementation of the law needs to be uniformly enforced across the state.”

In addition to Kilgore and White Deer school districts, 18 school districts reduced or repealed their local option homestead exemptions in 2015:

· Bridge City
· Broaddus
· Christoval
· Daingerfield-Lone Star
· Dumas
· Excelsior
· Groesbeck
· Gruver
· Hardin-Jefferson
· High Island
· Kountze
· Lexington
· Mount Pleasant
· Riviera
· Shepherd
· Spurger
· Veribest
· Winfield

To view a copy of the intervention, click here: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/epress/Plea_in_Intervention_-_Kilgore_ISD_v.2_w_exhibits_A-J_-_GM2.pdf?cachebuster:25

 
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