Two constitutional amendments will give tax breaks to the families of some recently deceased people

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HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — On the ballot this year are two constitutional amendments that would provide tax exemptions to some Texans.

Amendments to the state’s constitution have the highest level of legal authority if challenged in courts. If approved, these amendments would take effect a month after election day, November 2nd.

One of the amendments up for a vote, Proposition seven, would allow family members of people with disabilities to continue getting their tax benefits after the person with disabilities dies.

“It was a big deal beforehand but it’s been enhanced by the recent spike in the death of our elderly, and I think it’s appropriate at this point,” Rick Barrera, an attorney in Harlingen said.

People with certain disabilities can be exempt from school district property taxes according to the state tax code

In order for the benefits to transfer, the person with disabilities has to have been over 65 when they died and their spouse has to also be over 55.

The tax code was amended to include that addition in 2019, now legislators are making it a part of the constitution.

“This is going to save a lot of homes, it’s going to help a lot of people keep their homes,” Barrera said.

Another amendment, proposition eight, would provide tax breaks to the spouses of military personnel who die. Currently, tax breaks are given to the surviving family members of military personnel who are killed in active combat.

Under proposition eight, surviving spouses “would have property tax breaks when they have a spouse who is killed in the line of duty”, Barrera said.

In the line of duty includes combat deaths, and now active duty military members who die while on the job outside of combat could also be considered for those state tax breaks.

Active duty military personnel dying outside of combat is rare, so it is likely proposition eight wouldn’t impact a lot of people.

In order for a constitutional amendment to be added to the ballot in order to be voted on it must be approved by a majority of the legislature.

Barrera said that sometimes it takes widespread public votes to get initiatives like these passed.

“People will have an opportunity to control what laws pass instead of that going through a legislature. These types of elections are really important and they hit at the core of our democracy,” he said.

Early voting for the state constitutional amendments as well as some county-level votes end on Friday, October 29.  Polling locations are open through then from 7 A.M. to 7 P.M.

Election day is November 2.

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