AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that the Texas 6th District Court of Appeals in Texarkana issued an opinion yesterday stating that Kilgore ISD had no right to reject or lower local option homestead exemptions for taxpayers in Gregg County.
“Kilgore ISD cannot legally siphon money away from homeowners without their vote or consent. I’m grateful that the court recognized that local governments cannot simply brush off laws they do not like,” Attorney General Paxton said. “My office is proud to stand up for Texas homeowners and taxpayers in every school district.”
In May 2015, the Legislature enacted tax relief for Texans by prohibiting school districts from repealing or lowering local option homestead exemptions for the 2015-2019 tax years, while simultaneously providing additional state funding to school districts. Nevertheless, some school districts chose to reduce or repeal their local option homestead exemption in an attempt to tax homeowners at a rate that violated the law.
Twenty school districts throughout Texas reduced or repealed their local option homestead exemptions in 2015: Dumas, Kilgore, White Deer, Bridge City, Broaddus, Christoval, Daingerfield-Lone Star, excelsior, Groesbeck, Gruver, Hardin-Jefferson, High Island, Kountze, Lexington, Mount Pleasant, Riviera, Shepherd, Spurger, Veribest and Winfield.
When taxpayers filed suit against Kilgore ISD in 2016, Attorney General Paxton intervened in the lawsuit in support of the taxpayers, arguing that Kilgore violated state law by repealing its local option homestead exemption. The trial court ruled in favor of taxpayers and Texas last year, and today’s ruling upholds that decision in favor of the State.
Attorney General Paxton also intervened in lawsuits against Dumas and White Deer school districts, which remain pending.