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Many counties in Texas have various property tax reductions for senior citizens such as School tax ceilings and freezing property taxes when you turn 65. Another example.

My spouse and I own a home together, and she is 11 years older than me so she would qualify sooner than I will. How does it generally work when only one of the property owners is over 65. Do both get the benefit? If not, it seems like it would be smart to transfer the ownership of the property to the older spouse. In our case the mortgage is long since paid off, so I assume that would not be difficult to do.

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  • 65? You don't look a day over 50, John. Aug 17, 2020 at 16:17
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    I'm the younger one in the scenario. I'm only 49 now, but doing some financial planning to figure out when I can finally retire!
    – JohnFx
    Aug 18, 2020 at 16:33

1 Answer 1

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This bit from the Texas Comptroller site indicates a surviving spouse under 65 can get the benefit even after the over 65 spouse dies, which wouldn't make sense unless both owners were able to get the exemption as soon as one spouse turns 65:

To qualify for the age 65 or older local option exemption, the owner must be age 65 or older and live in the house. If the age 65 or older homeowner dies, the surviving spouse may continue to receive the local option exemption if the surviving spouse is age 55 or older at the time of death and lives in and owns the home and applies for the exemption.

This is the behavior I'd expect based on how a similar exemption works in my home state (Colorado).

I'm not seeing any specifics for non-spouse joint-owners.

I would think, since Texas is a community property state, even if your wife's name was the only one on the deed you would still be considered an owner of the house (assuming it was acquired while married).

I emailed the Comptroller's office out of curiosity and heard back:

You are correct, as long as one spouse is 65 years of age or older, the property would qualify for the exemption as long as it meets the qualifications of a residence homestead as well.

If the property is owned by two non-spouses, the person 65 or older would qualify for 50% of the exemption amount.

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  • In my research I saw a lot of articles like this which talk about what happens when one spouse dies, but none of them were explicit about whether the property tax treatment would be applicable if the married co-owners were ages 65 and 54 respectively. This seems to imply that they might if the younger spouse is at least 55, but I wish I could find something more on the nose when both people are still among the living.
    – JohnFx
    Aug 17, 2020 at 14:57
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    @JohnFx Yeah, it's implied but not stated as far as I can tell. The CO wording requires you to be the homeowner or the surviving spouse of a qualifying homeowner, but it does apply to both spouses regardless of age so long as one qualifies.
    – Hart CO
    Aug 17, 2020 at 15:20
  • @JohnFx Got an email response, added to answer.
    – Hart CO
    Aug 17, 2020 at 16:11

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