Taxpayer’s Three-Acre Tract Properly Qualified for Both Homestead Exemption and Open-Space Land Valuation.

A taxpayer owned three contiguous parcels of land: a three-acre tract, a one-acre tract, and a nine-acre tract. He lived in a home located on the one-acre tract.  Before 2010, the taxpayer was granted by the appraisal district a valuation of the three-acre tract as open-space land for purposes of ad valorem taxes. In 2010 and 2011, the appraisal district denied the taxpayer’s application for a residence homestead exemption for the same three-acre tract.  The trial court ruled in favor of the taxpayer in his challenge to the appraisal district’s decision, and the appraisal district appealed. On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling, finding that a taxpayer is entitled to a homestead exemption for an entire parcel of property if the contiguous lots total less than 20 acres and they are used as a residence homestead. The court rejected the appraisal district’s argument that the homestead exemption was incompatible with the “agricultural use” requirement necessary for the open-space land valuation. Tex. Tax Code Ann. § 11.13(k) (which provided that the amount of any residence homestead exemption for a qualified residential structure did not apply to the value of that portion of the structure used for other purposes) did not apply to the case at hand because the statute applied only to residential structures, not land. No legal authority provided that land could not be used as a residence homestead and also for agricultural purposes. In fact, Tex. Tax Code Ann. § 23.55(i) did provide that a parcel of land qualifying for open-space valuation did not undergo a change of use when it was claimed as part of a residence homestead.  Parker County Appraisal Dist. v. Francis, No. 02-13-00182-CV, 2014 Tex. App. LEXIS 6690 (Tex. Ct. App. Jun. 19, 2014).

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