Hundreds of towable RV owners will ask Texas officials to determine whether counties can tax travel trailers in mobile-home parks, according to the Valley Morning Star of Harlingen, Tex.
An owners group wants the state attorney general to render a legal opinion on the issue, said Gene Flynn of Plano, who leads the Winter Texans group.
On Sept. 13, Texas voters approved Proposition 5, an amendment aimed at exempting travel trailers from property taxes. But the law doesn’t exempt “a structure that a person owns and which is substantially affixed to real estate and is used or occupied as a residential dwelling,” said Jesse Garcia, chief deputy for the Cameron County Tax Assessor’s Office.
The Winter Texans want a legal definition of “substantially affixed,” as it applies to park models and other RVs, Flynn said.
The law has confused many Winter Texas whose properties are not entitled to tax exemptions, Cameron County officials said. “They automatically assume that because they have travel trailers, they’re automatically exempted,” said Garcia.
But Winter Texans argue the law exempts travel trailers not used as year-round residences, Flynn said.
County officials insist that Winter Texans are misinterpreting the language of the law.
But it’s county officials’ interpretation that’s got travel-trailer owners fuming, Flynn said.
At the Cameron County Appraisal District, officials have handled about 100 requests from travel-trailer owners who argue the law exempts their property, Chief Appraiser Frutoso Gomez said. “There is some confusion out there,” he said.
Outraged Winter Texans called it “taxation without representation,” Flynn said, adding that travel-trailer owners are paying $200 to $900 a year in property taxes under the law.
“My argument is these are tax-exempted and they’re being illegally taxed,” he said. “I am in contact with hundreds and they’re very upset.”
While many travel trailers are tied down according to park regulations, they remain mobile, Flynn said.
At the Appraisal District, appraisers are busy visiting travel-trailer owners who have requested tax refunds to inspect their properties, Gomez said.
“We are looking at it on a case-by-case basis,” he said.