As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop in Texas, there has been debate about whether or not Texas Property Tax Code section 11.35, which affords tax relief to properties affected by a “disaster”, applies.
While COVID-19 will certainly influence the real estate market, for 2020 COVID-19 is entirely an exemption issue. Texas Protax will only be contesting the market value of our client’s properties as of January 1, 2020, at this year’s property tax appeal hearing.
Texas Protax will not be filing or appealing the COVID-19 application.
The Attorney General of Texas issued an opinion on April 13, 2020, stating the 11.35 exemption is not applicable for COVID-19. The Attorney General’s opinion does not settle the issue, it is only one component of a decision that may ultimately be decided by the courts. The Attorney General’s opinion (KP-0299) and the overview from the Texas House Ways and Means Committee (Section 11.35 Disaster Exemption Overview) are attached for your review.
Should the courts ultimately rule in favor of applying the exemption to properties in Texas, only those who have submitted the appropriate exemption application will be granted the determined exemption amount.
This application is entirely optional and may not influence your 2020 tax liability at all. If you choose to apply for the exemption, please fill out the form (Form 50-312) and submit the application to your local Appraisal District before June 19, 2020.
COVID-19 Community Resources
Austin and Travis County
Community Resources: How To Get Help
The City of Austin wants to ensure customers have uninterrupted access to utility services. There is immediate help available. Austin Energy manages customer support and billing for all City of Austin Utilities, and it offers a number of programs that will help customers with their utility bills:
Deferred payment plan: Ensures their customers receive uninterrupted utility services while they work with utility support agents to create a plan which meets their needs. Customer Assistance Programs: Limited income customers and medically in need customers may receive assistance for immediate and lasting utility bill relief.
The following companies have temporarily suspended natural gas service disconnections due to non-payment for Coronavirus situation:
Both City of Austin Utilities Payment Centers are closed as of March 18. Click here to learn more about other ways customers can pay their utility bills.
Neighborhood Services provides some rent and utility assistance. Call 512-972-5780 Monday – Friday 8 am – 12pm and 1pm – 4:30 pm and for assistance with emergency food delivery service call 512-972-5133.
Contact the Texas Workforce Commission to apply for unemployment benefits. This link includes a guide to help you through the process.
Small businesses and nonprofits in Travis County can apply for an U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Assistance Loan. This provides loans up to $2 million for fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster’s impact.
Visit the Economic Development Department’s Small Business Resource Directory to find immediate support including a list of government and community resources for small businesses and non-profits impacted by COVID-19.