APPROVAL OF PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS FOR ELIGIBLE ORGANIZATIONS
CONSTRUCTING OR REHABILITATING ELIGIBLE LOW-INCOME
MULTIFAMILY RENTAL HOUSING
Texas Tax Code, Section 11.1825, permits exemptions to ad valorem property taxes of Eligible Property owned by Eligible Organizations to assist with the rehabilitation or construction on the property for the provision of housing to individuals and families meeting certain income requirements. Harris County approval is required for an organization to receive such an exemption from Harris Central Appraisal District(HCAD). On April 4, 2023, Commissioners Court directed the Office of County Administration (OCA), Management and Budget (OMB), Tax Assessor-Collector(TAC), Community Services Department (HCCSD), and any other relevant county departments to prepare a Countywide policy consistent with a balanced budget related to recommend and approve certain tax exemptions for Eligible Organizations to construct and preserve affordable rental housing. On July 18, 2023, Commissioners Court approved a policy submitted by HCCSD and directed the same county departments to prepare guidelines associated with such policy. On August 29, 2023, this amended and restated policy was presented to Commissioners Court together with the attached guidelines for approval and Tax Exemption Application below.
Determination of Eligibility
1. Determination of Application Period. Beginning in 2024, the Application Period will begin on January 1 and end on March 1 annually. The Application Period dates must be posted on OMB’s and HCCSD’s respective websites.
2. Submission of Application for Exemption. During the Application Period, an organization seeking an exemption must submit a written application to Harris County requesting the same, in the form prescribed by the County pursuant hereto and in the manner set forth in the County’s Internal Guidelines (as defined herein), as may be updated from time to time. An application will be deemed to be received only when actually received at the location(s) and in the manner provided by the County.
3. Form of Application. HCCSD will promulgate an application form for Applicant use within ninety (90) days after the effective date of this policy. Such application will contain (a) instructions on how to submit the application, (b) what back-up or supporting documentation is required to accompany a completed application, and (c) the requirement that any Applicant must disclose previous revocations or denials of this exemption. HCCSD must request that an organization seeking a Property Tax Exemption disclose any previous revocations of the exemption., as described in Section V(e) of this policy.
4. Application Fee. HCCSD may require an application fee be submitted along with the application. This fee must be determined prior to the Application Period. Any application fee will be uniform and be applied in a non-discriminatory manner. For the 2023 and 2024 Application Periods, the application fee will be $0.
5. Completeness of Application. HCCSD will review submitted applications and determine whether all required fields have been completed and all necessary attachments have been included. Within the time established by the Internal Guidelines after receipt of the application, HCCSD will notify the Applicant whether the application is considered administratively complete or not, and if not, any additional materials to be provided for completion. If an application is deemed administratively complete, the submission date will remain the date of delivery. If it is not deemed administratively complete, the submission date will be deemed the day the materials are received that complete the application, as determined by HCCSD.
6. Preliminary Eligibility: Based on the information submitted by the Applicant and within the timeframe established in the Internal Guidelines, HCCSD will determine whether the organization and property referenced in the application preliminarily qualify as an Eligible Organization and Eligible Property, respectively.
- HCCSD may request assistance from the Harris County Attorney’s Office (CAO) or any other resources to interpret statutory criteria or evaluate the application of both statutes and/or these policy guidelines to certain Applicants where the determinations of eligibility require legal assistance.
- HCCSD must inform HCAD, OMB of any organizations and properties deemed preliminarily eligible for an exemption after its determination was made. If an organization requesting an exemption is not recommended by HCCSD, HCCSD must provide the reasoning the organization is not eligible. The organization must be informed of its eligibility determination by notice using the method of communication that the application was submitted to HCCSD. If the Applicant does not remedy the issue identified by HCCSD or withdraw its application, HCCSD will recommend the Commissioners Court deny the application.
7. Applicable Year of Exemptions.
- 2023 Exemptions: In an effort to launch the tax exemption program expeditiously, the first Application Period will be a 60-day period following Commissioners Court approval of this policy, beginning on the date the application is publicly posted and available to Applicants. The County cannot guarantee when HCAD will process such applications and apply any exemptions HCAD grants after receiving a complete application. HCAD, in its sole discretion, will determine the tax year to which successful 2023 Applicants’ exemptions will be applied.
- Exemptions Generally. In fiscal years after 2023, the County’s application process is intended to comply with applicable HCAD deadlines to allow such exemptions to be reflected in that year’s assessed valuation. The County cannot guarantee when HCAD will process applications and grant exemptions, but it is anticipated that such exemptions will be granted in the same fiscal year, provided all HCAD deadlines and requirements are met.
Applicants are encouraged to review HCAD requirements and direct any questions regarding such requirements to HCAD.
8. Creation of Internal Guidelines. HCCSD and OMB may draft and implement certain internal guidelines (as amended, the “Internal Guidelines”) to implement this Policy, provided the same are (a) not inconsistent with this Policy or applicable law and (b) uniform and non-discriminatory. The Internal Guidelines may include, without limitation, the following: (i) the application format and method for submission, (ii) interpretive guidance for determining if an organization or property qualifies for preliminary approval for an exemption, (iii) interpretive guidance for consideration of the fiscal impact and housing need hereunder, and (iv) the priority/order for review of incoming applications. Notwithstanding the above, however, as internal guidelines are meant to serve exclusively as interpretive measures, HCCSD may not develop internal guidelines that modify the eligibility criteria or the process of application review or increase the requirements for an applicant to qualify for a preliminary recommendation.
Policy Guidelines and Tax Exemption Application