Beginning next month, individuals seeking to apply for a new homestead exemption in Texas will need to comply with a new application process.

If you currently have a homestead exemption on your property you will not need to take any action. This only applies to applications submitted after Sept. 1, 2011.

The recent session of the Texas Legislature imposed rigorous new standards of mandatory disclosure for those property owners who apply for any one of several kinds of homestead exemptions starting Sept. 1.

To receive a homestead exemption for property tax purposes, new applicants must now provide a copy of their Texas driver’s license or Texas state-issued identification card and a copy of their vehicle registration receipt with their application for a homestead exemption.

Moreover, the street addresses shown on each of the documents must be the same as the address for which the homestead exemption is sought, according to Ellis Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Kathy Rodrigue.

According to John Bridges, the Ellis County Tax Assessor/Collector, if you need a duplicate receipt or you need to get your address changed and a copy of your vehicle registration receipt there is a $2 state mandated fee for this service. Contact the Ellis County Tax Office at 972-825-5150 or come by the tax office located at 109 S. Jackson, Room T125 for assistance with an address change or receipt on your vehicle registration.

Those who do not own a vehicle will be required to submit a notarized affidavit certifying that fact and provide a copy of a current bill received from a utility company.  The address on the utility bill must be the same as the address on the application for a homestead exemption.

“The Legislature has closed loopholes in disclosure that allowed some citizens to obtain homestead exemptions on more than one property,” Rodrigue said. “The Legislature has also authorized appraisal districts to gain access to the database of the Texas Department of Public Safety so that differences in addresses reported for driver’s license and property tax reasons can be audited electronically.”

The new requirement that takes effect on Sept. 1 is required for any one of the several ways property owners can qualify for a residential property homestead. These include the following:

• General residential exemption

• Over-65 exemption

• Disability exemption

• 100 percent disabled veterans exemption

• Extension of exemption for a surviving spouse

• Exemption for manufactured (mobile) home

Each of the programs cited above have additional requirements for qualification.  However, the common standard is that all such applicants must provide the additional documentation as noted before regarding driver’s license, Texas issued identification card, motor vehicle registration, and utility billing receipt.

For those seeking homestead exemption status on a manufactured home, the applicant must also provide documentation as noted below:

• Statement of ownership and location issued by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, or

• A copy of the purchase contract or payment receipt that the applicant is the purchaser of the manufactured home or a sworn affidavit that:

a. The applicant is the owner of the manufactured home

b. The seller of the manufactured home did not provide the applicant with a purchase contract, and

c. The applicant could not locate the seller after making a good faith effort

To avoid confusion, the modified homestead exemption form and the referenced affidavits will be posted on the effective date of the new legislation (Sept. 1) on the website of the Ellis Appraisal District at www.ecad.com or www.ecad.org. 

Links to where to obtain information on driver’s licenses, Texas issued state-identification cards, and vehicle registration information will also be provided on the EAD website.

Applications dated and submitted to EAD by Aug. 31, 2011, will be processed under the pre-Sept. 1 guidelines.