It’s the Law
- Government of Texas
- Real Estate Laws
- Driving Laws
- Gun Laws
- Labor Laws
- Smoking & Drinking Laws
- Marriage & Divorce Laws
- Education Laws
GOVERNMENT OF TEXAS
The government of Texas operates under the Constitution of Texas and consists of a unitary democratic state government operating under a presidential system. The capital of Texas is located in Austin, Texas.
Texas has a total of 254 counties and each county is run by a five-member Commissioner’s Court consisting of four commissioners elected from single-member districts and a county judge elected at-large.
Texas is home to more than 1,200 municipalities with about 250 located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. Texas doesn’t have townships; areas within a county are either incorporated or unincorporated. Cities are classified as either General Law or Charter/Home Rule.
In addition to cities and counties, Texas has several special districts. The most common is the Independent School District, which each have a board of trustees that is independent of any other governing authority. School district boundaries are not generally aligned with city or county boundaries in Texas. The Texas Education Agency governs public education in Texas. Other special districts include: river authorities, water supply districts, public hospitals, road districts, and community colleges.
When you move to Texas, you won’t pay a personal income tax at the state or local level. You also won’t pay a local occupation tax or local wage tax. This means more money in your paycheck. Instead, you pay for local government services, such as education, through local property taxes, sales taxes, and business taxes. It’s a balance, to be sure, but for people who are moving to the Dallas Region from high-income tax states, this change can feel like a financial windfall. Check out our cost calculator to see how the Dallas Region stacks up.
Texas does not collect personal income tax (state or local). Texas is one of only seven U.S. states with no state income tax and Dallas ranks in the top 10 U.S. cities with the highest pay adjusted to cost of living.
The state sales tax rate in Texas is 6.250 percent. With local taxes, the total sales tax rate is between 6.250 percent and 8.250 percent.
Texas has no state property tax. Property taxes are levied by local taxing units (city, county, school district, and special districts).
For more information on taxes in the state of Texas, please visit the Texas Comptroller
The Texas Homestead Exemption reduces taxes by lowering a home’s taxable value. All school districts offer a $15,000 homestead exemption, and some taxing units offer a separate exemption based on a percentage of a home’s assessed value. The homestead exemption applies only if the property is the owner’s primary residence. There are additional exemptions for people over 65. Also under the Texas Homestead Exemption your residence is protected from the forced sale by creditors, with the exception of the lender, the IRS, or a contractor who works on your house and increases its value. When you buy a house, call the county appraisal district and ask for the forms for declaring your homestead.
For more information on the homestead exemption, please visit the Texas Comptroller
You have 90 days to obtain a Texas driver’s license after moving to the state. If you are over 18 and already have a valid, unexpired license from another state, you won’t have to take the driving or knowledge test. To obtain your new Texas license, you must:
- Submit an application to your local Department of Public Safety
- Provide proof of Texas residency
- Submit a valid form of ID, such as a passport, unexpired military ID card, or U.S. Citizen Identification Card
- Pay a $25 fee
In Texas, you are required to have liability car insurance. It’s OK if your auto insurance was issued by another state, but it will have to meet the minimum coverage required. In Texas, all drivers must have at least $25,000 in coverage for property damage, $30,000 for each injured person, and $60,000 for injuries per incident.
Vehicle inspections are still a part of the registration process and are performed at Official Vehicle Inspection Stations licensed by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Inspections must be done 90 days of registering your vehicle. Emission testing is required in 17 Texas counties which must comply with federally mandated clear air requirements.
Texas residents must have their vehicle inspected within 90 days of renewing the state vehicle registration sticker. Under the one-sticker system, the registration sticker serves as both the inspection and registration. You can register your vehicle online, by mail, or in person.
Texas does not require drivers or passengers of motorcyclists to wear helmets. The state also does not require helmets for bicyclists. However, city regulations vary on the latter, and the city of Dallas requires helmets for bicyclists ages 17 and younger.
For more information on driving laws, please visit Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
There are no legal restrictions to purchasing a gun in Texas. You do not need to obtain a license to own a firearm or register a firearm that you own. It is legal to carry a shotgun or a rifle without having a handler’s license. Handguns can be carried in some places without a Texas Concealed Handgun License (CHL).
You may carry a concealed handgun in most places in Texas if you have a CHL, but you must carry the CHL with you. Texas has reciprocity agreements with 30 states. However, there are some places and circumstances you cannot carry a handgun legally even with a CHL. Owners of any establishment can prohibit handguns on their properties if they post a legal notice.
RIGHT TO WORK
Texas is a right-to-work state. That means you cannot be denied employment for participation or nonparticipation in a labor union/ organization. Your employer cannot discriminate against you for choosing to join or not join a union. Texas is also an employment-at-will state, which means the employer or employees can terminate employment at any time, for any reason, with a few exceptions.
For more information on labor laws, please visit Attorney General of Texas
USE & PURCHASE OF TOBACCO
You must be older than 18 years of age to purchase tobacco products in Texas.
Smoking is not allowed in public places in Dallas, including city parks, libraries, buses, or within 15 feet of any pedestrian entrance. The city of Dallas has also banned smoking in bars and restaurants. However, many of the surrounding communities do allow smoking in bars.
The legal age to purchase and consume alcohol in Texas is 21. In Texas, driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher is considered driving while intoxicated (DWI). It is illegal in Texas to have open containers of alcohol in the passenger area of your vehicle while you are driving or parked on a public highway.
DRY VERSUS WET AREAS
A wet area is one in which sales of alcoholic beverages are permitted at all times. A dry area is one in which some or all alcoholic beverage sales are restricted some or all of the time. There are also partially wet areas in which beer and wine sales are legal, but the sale of liquor is not. DFW is a complicated patchwork of all of the above.
MARRIAGE & DIVORCE REQUIREMENTS
To get married in Texas, you need to be at least 18 years old. Apply in person at a Texas County Clerk’s Office to receive your marriage license. Texas is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you do not have to prove a wrongdoing to be granted a divorce. Texas does not stipulate that a couple must be separated for any period of time prior to getting a divorce.
COMMON LAW MARRIAGE
Texas recognizes comon- law marriages. You and your partner simply need to either file a Declaration of Informal Marriage or agree that you are married, live together in Texas, and represent to other people that you are married to each other.
As of the summer of 2015, the State of Texas recognizes marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships between individuals of the same gender, per the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
For more information on marriage and divorce laws, please visit Texas Department of State Health Services
Texas does not require kindergarten. However, children ages 6 and over must attend school.
Texas requires students to take standardized tests in grades 3-8 and high school end-of-course (EOC) exams. The tests are called the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STARR) system. The number of EOC tests a student is required to take depends on what that student plans to do after graduation.