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Prop 1: Tax Break For Veterans' Spouses


By Matt Largey, KUT News

Austin, TX – Early voting has begun for the November 8th election. Texans are voting on 10 constitutional amendments - dealing with everything from water projects to student loans. KUT's Matt Largey explains Proposition One on this fall's ballot.

In 2007, Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment that exempted veterans who were 100 percent disabled from property taxes on their primary residence. If approved, Proposition 1 would extend that exemption to a spouse, if that disabled veteran dies.

Leticia Van de Putte: "As you know, it's not just the service member that serves in the armed forces, it's the entire family."

Democrat Leticia van de Putte is a state senator from San Antonio. She authored the amendment.

Leticia van de Putte: "Particularly with a service member who was 100 percent disabled - that spouse has spent a good number of years caring for that disabled veteran."

Van de Putte argues that the death of that veteran puts an even bigger strain on the surviving spouse - that could be reduced by continuing the property tax exemption. Even if the spouse moves, they could maintain the exemption.

Leticia van de Putte: "If the widow wanted to downsize her home, or move closer to the kids - as long as it wasn't for an exemption amount greater than the original amount, then it could be portable, as well."

Some have raised concerns that extending tax exemptions like this one decrease revenues for local governments and schools - without replacing that revenue. Others have argued that a surviving spouse could later remarry - and still maintain the exemption. Still, the measure had broad support among lawmakers. The underlying legislation passed both the House and Senate unanimously.

Early voting continues through next Friday. Election Day is November 8th.