Good News for Dallas Oldies, Including our Mayor: Senior and Disabled Homestead Exemption Now $90,000

Another positive move by the Dallas City Council this efficient first day of the new council, at least for us oldies: the property tax homestead exemption for seniors and the disabled has been raised from $64,000 to $90,000. 

The break was launched and shepherded by Jennifer Staubach Gates. The vote was unanimous, but some worried about it pinching the budget. Personally, I think this is more of a “thank-you” gift to all the seniors who voted in the last election. When you run for office, you learn quickly it’s mainly the old folks who vote, answer the phone and front door, and love to jabber about issues.

Here’s how the exemption works: the year before you turn 65, your homestead (the home you live in, not a second or investment home) freezes the amount you pay on county and school taxes. You can do this for the first person who turns 65 in your home, or it applies to the surviving spouse of a 65 year old if she is 55 or older — ha, another reason not to get a trophy wife! There is a property tax “ceiling” that limits the school and county taxes to what you paid in the year you or your spouse turned 65. It could only change if you add major improvements to the property.

Funny thing at today’s City Council meeting. Mayor Rawlings made a big deal of telling the senior citizens of Dallas that this increased exemption was being done for them, despite all the dire financial needs of the city, and they should remember that! He also said he didn’t want Council whining when the budget got tight come August. The break is costing the city about $15 million. After all, there are more dollars going to bail out the Dallas Police and Fire pension fund, remember? Still, the vote was unanimous.

“I love it when the council comes together and we’re agreeing on something. It sounds like we’re very passionate about this,” Rawlings said. “But this needs to be very clear that this is the biggest decision we’re going to make in this city’s budget this year.”

But it’s going to help Rawlings, too, because he is also in exemption mode!

(I can relate: as we get older, we never think of ourselves as being “old”.)

You can apply for the exemption for the whole year, even if you turn 65 on Dec 31. Let’s use the Mayor’s homestead as an example:

See that $64,000 deduction under City Exemptions?  Starting in 2018, that figure will be $90,000. Doubt there are many homes priced at $112,000…

But effective 1/1/18 owners of homes worth more than $112,000 will save about $203 at the current tax rate of 78.25 cents per $100 of assessed value. The exemption also will be indexed for inflation every two years, courtesy of my ex Lee Kleinman, who wanted it adjusted annually, and Ricky Callahan, who suggested two years.

Leave it to Lee to complicate things.

How much will this save Mayor Rawlings? About $203. ($90,000-$64,000 = $26,000 x .7825 = $203.45)

Which is a good thing, right? His property is competing with those $4 and $5 million mansions down the street: every little bit helps!