A property tax exemption passed during the recent legislative session entitles totally disabled veterans to a complete exemption from property taxes on their homestead.

Ellis County veteran’s services officer James Wilhoite is urging those veterans who are considered 100-percent disabled to contact the Ellis Appraisal District to claim their exemption.

The exemption applies to any veteran with a service-connected disability who receives compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at the 100-percent level due to either a 100-percent disability rating or individual unemployability.

Word is spreading about the new law, but Wilhoite said efforts need to continue to ensure all qualifying veterans receive the exemption, which was passed as part of House Bill 3613. The legislation was originally filed as Senate Bill 469 by state Sen. John Carona and as House Bill 742 by state Rep. Kino Flores.

The bill’s language makes the exemption retroactive to the 2009 taxes.

“The older vets in particular who qualify are the ones needing this because they’re the ones on a fixed income,” Wilhoite said. “With property taxes what they are nowadays, every little bit helps.”

Veterans who want to claim the exemption do not need to go through the veteran services office with the county, but should go directly to the appraisal district, located at 400 Ferris Ave. The telephone number is 972-937-3552.

According to information from Wilhoite, the total value of an applicable disabled veteran’s residence homestead (principal residence) is exempt from any calculation of property taxation – regardless of the number of taxing units such as an ISD, utility district or city. This equates to a zero-dollar tax bill for any veteran who qualifies.

“We’re talking zero-due in taxes,” Wilhoite said of the exemption. “For some veterans that’ll mean a savings of from $75 to $100 a month when you look at what they have been paying in taxes.”

Applying for the totally disabled veteran property tax is being facilitated with a new certification letter created by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The letter addresses the specific percentage rating of a veteran’s disability, the veteran’s individually unemployable status and whether the service was service-connected.

A copy of the VA letter should be included with the application to the appraisal district. Applications are available from the appraisal district or online at the Texas Comptroller’s Office of Public Accounts at http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/taxforms/02-form06.html.

To contact the Ellis County Veteran’s Services Office for veteran-related matters, call 972-825-5099.

Contact JoAnn at joann@wninews.com or call 469-517-1452.