(a) An individual is entitled to defer or abate a suit to collect a delinquent tax imposed on the portion of the appraised value of property the individual owns and occupies as the individual's residence homestead that exceeds the sum of:
(1) 105 percent of the appraised value of the property for the preceding year; and
(2) the market value of all new improvements to the property.
(b) An individual may not obtain a deferral or abatement under this section, and any deferral or abatement previously received expires, if the taxes on the portion of the appraised value of the property that does not exceed the amount provided by Subsection (a) are delinquent.
(c) To obtain a deferral, an individual must file with the chief appraiser for the appraisal district in which the property is located an affidavit stating the facts required to be established by Subsection (a). The chief appraiser shall notify each taxing unit participating in the district of the filing. After an affidavit is filed under this subsection, a taxing unit may not file suit to collect delinquent taxes on the property for which collection is deferred until the individual no longer owns and occupies the property as a residence homestead.
(d) To obtain an abatement, the individual must file in the court in which the delinquent tax suit is pending an affidavit stating the facts required to be established by Subsection (a). If the taxing unit that filed the suit does not file a controverting affidavit or if, after a hearing, the court finds the individual is entitled to the deferral, the court shall abate the suit until the individual no longer owns and occupies the property as the individual's residence homestead. The clerk of the court shall deliver a copy of the judgment abating the suit to the chief appraiser of each appraisal district that appraises the property.
(e) A deferral or abatement under this section applies only to ad valorem taxes imposed beginning with the tax year following the first tax year the individual entitled to the deferral or abatement qualifies the property for an exemption under Section 11.13 . For purposes of this subsection, the owner of a residence homestead that is qualified for an exemption under Section 11.13 on January 1, 1998, is considered to have qualified the property for the first time in the 1997 tax year.
(f) If the collection of delinquent taxes on the property was deferred in a prior tax year and the sum of the amounts described by Subsections (a)(1) and (2) exceeds the appraised value of the property for the current tax year, the amount of taxes the collection of which may be deferred is reduced by the amount calculated by multiplying the taxing unit's tax rate for the current year by the amount by which that sum exceeds the appraised value of the property.
(g) A tax lien remains on the property and interest continues to accrue during the period collection of delinquent taxes is deferred or abated under this section. The annual interest rate during the deferral or abatement period is eight percent instead of the rate provided by Section 33.01 . Interest and penalties that accrued or that were incurred or imposed under Section 33.01 or 33.07 before the date the individual files the deferral affidavit under Subsection (c) or the date the judgment abating the suit is entered, as applicable, are preserved. A penalty is not incurred on the delinquent taxes for which collection is deferred or abated during a deferral or abatement period. The additional penalty under Section 33.07 may be imposed and collected only if the delinquent taxes for which collection is deferred or abated remain delinquent on or after the 91st day after the date the deferral or abatement period expires. A plea of limitation, laches, or want of prosecution does not apply against the taxing unit because of deferral or abatement of collection as provided by this section.
(h) Each year the chief appraiser for each appraisal district shall publicize in a manner reasonably designed to notify all residents of the county for which the appraisal district is established of the provisions of this section and, specifically, the method by which an eligible person may obtain a deferral.
(i) In this section:
(1) “New improvement” means an improvement to a residence homestead that is made after the appraisal of the property for the preceding year and that increases the market value of the property. The term does not include ordinary maintenance of an existing structure or the grounds or another feature of the property.
(2) “Residence homestead” has the meaning assigned that term by Section 11.13 .
(j) An heir property owner who qualifies heir property as the owner's residence homestead under Chapter 11 is considered the sole owner of the property for the purposes of this section.
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