On the ballot on November 2nd 2021 is a vote on Texas Proposition 8 the Homestead Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouses of Military Fatally Injured in the Line of Duty Amendment.
Recently someone who frequents the “Halls of Power” represented Proposition 8 as a property tax exemption for all veterans. The argument was made that if veterans didn’t pay their taxes that the tax burden would be passed on to the rest of us.
Veterans raised their hands and volunteered to serve our great nation, often at great personal cost to themselves and their families. The person presenting Proposition 8 suggested a “No” on it, to make sure that we collect those property taxes so the rest of our taxes don’t go up.
Here’s the trouble: That’s not at all what Proposition 8 is all about. Just in case any of you were also given a similar recommendation, the following explains Proposition 8.
This proposition is meant to be a language change for an approved item by Texas voters that is already in the Texas Constitution. Tax exemptions are currently provided to the surviving spouse on all of part of the market value of a home of a member of the armed services who is killed in action.
The proposition put before Texas voters on November 2nd asks if we want to change the wording from “killed in action” to “who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty." You might wonder what the difference is.
Killed in action (KIA) is a casualty classification generally used to describe the deaths of combatants at the hands of hostile forces.The United States Department of Defense says that those declared KIA do not need to have fired their weapons, but only to have been killed due to hostile attack. KIA is a “Line of Duty” death. KIAs include those killed by friendly in the midst of combat, but not from incidents such as accidental vehicle crashes, murder or other non-hostile events. These other deaths are investigated to determine if they were “line of duty.”
“Line of duty” is a determination made whenever a service-member dies while on active duty. Any time a service member dies on active duty, the DoD conducts an investigation into the death to determine the “line of duty” status. The investigation is meant to determine if the service member was negligent or engaged in misconduct and inadvertently brought about their own demise. Situations that would not be considered “line of duty” are drinking and driving, not wearing a motorcycle helmet, etc.
A “Yes” vote on November 2nd would expand the Homestead Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouses to include the other “line of duty” deaths - not just those “killed in action.”
Federal data suggests that this would impact less than 10 Texans per year.
Veterans and their families are not a special interest group. Less than 1% of our population volunteer to serve our nation in uniform. They are a small segment of the American population that volunteered to serve so that the rest of us can enjoy the liberties and freedoms that we often take for granted. The surviving spouse of an active duty military member, who is “killed in action” or in the “line of duty” certainly earns special consideration from Texas voters.