Bastrop County homeowners and business owners who had property damage as a result of the Texas Freeze in mid-February may be eligible for property tax relief this year.
Qualified properties — homes, commercial buildings, industrial buildings, multi-family buildings and other real property buildings — that sustained damage equal to at least 15% of the appraised value of the structure could receive a temporary exemption of a portion of their property value, according to the Bastrop Central Appraisal District.
A tax exemption for property that's damaged by a disaster is allowed in an area that receives a disaster declaration from the governor, as per Section 11.35 of the state Tax Code. Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for all 254 counties on Feb. 12 in advance of severe winter weather.
The Texas Freeze, which brought ice and snow storms and several days of continuous subfreezing temperatures last month, left millions of Texans temporarily without power and water. The state Health Services Department has attributed at least 57 Texans' deaths to the winter weather, according to a report released Monday. The frigid temperatures also caused some pipes to burst, resulting in homes and businesses sustaining water damage or flooding.
"The appraisal district determines if the property qualifies for the temporary exemption and assigns a damage assessment rating of Level 1, 2, 3 or 4 based upon available information," the appraisal district said in a news release.
The district may issue a Level 1 rating to property that was at least 15% but less than 30% damaged. This damage may be described as minimal and the building may still be used as intended. Property that receives a Level 1 damage rating is eligible for a 15% exemption of the appraised property value.
A Level 2 rating may be issued to property that was at least 30% but less than 60% damaged. This damage is described as nonstructural, and if there was flooding, the waterline is below 18 inches in height. A Level 2 rating is eligible for a 30% exemption.
A Level 3 rating may be issued to property that was at least 60% but less than 100% damaged. This damage is described as significant structural damage, and if there was flooding, the waterline is higher than 18 inches from the floor. A Level 3 rating is eligible for a 60% exemption.
A Level 4 rating may be issued to property that was 100% damaged. The damage is described as a total loss and repair is not feasible. A Level 4 rating is eligible for an 100% exemption.
The appraisal district "may rely on information from a county emergency management authority, the Federal Emergency Management Agency or other appropriate sources like insurance adjusters or repair estimates when making this determination," it said.
The deadline to file for the 2021 temporary disaster exemption is May 28. The appraisal district will send applicants written notice of approval, modification or denial of the exemption.
The Temporary Exemption Property Damaged by Disaster application, Form 50-312, can be downloaded on the appraisal district's website.