As residential property appraisals continue to skyrocket, the city of Fort Worth is considering increasing its senior tax exemption.
Right now, residents over 65 years old in Fort Worth can apply for and claim a $40,000 tax exemption from the city. In effect, that excludes $40,000 of a home’s appraised value from taxation. Around 45,000 residents currently claim the senior tax exemption, accounting for 16% of all tax exemptions in the city.
Mark McDaniel, FWLab chief transformation officer, told council members in a May 16 presentation that the city isn’t capped on the amount it could increase the exemption.
He provided a $5,000 increase as an example. If the tax exemption was bumped to $45,000, it would cost the city about $1.6 million in revenue, he said. That sum totals 0.17% of the 2023 general fund budget.
Fort Worth lags slightly behind other Tarrant County municipalities in its senior tax exemption. The average exemption amount across the county’s 41 municipalities is $40,895, according to the presentation.
While the city has worked to shift the tax burden from residents to commercial entities in recent years, progress has been slow, City Manager David Cooke said.
“I do think if you look at existing properties, residential is appreciating at a faster rate than commercial,” he said.
District 4 council member Alan Blaylock said he’s in favor of any measure that can provide tax relief to Fort Worth residents.
“I can’t tell you how many elderly residents are saying they’re literally being taxed out of their homes,” he said.
District 9 council member Elizabeth Beck said the current senior tax exemption hasn’t kept up with inflation, and she’s in favor of increasing it. The last time it was increased was in 1984.
“I was 2 the last time it was updated,” Beck said.
The city will finalize its proposed budget in August. Blaylock and Crain both said they’re also hopeful there will be additional tax relief provided by state lawmakers this year.