Homestead and Other Property Tax Exemptions – Did you buy a home in 2015?

Property tax in Texas is a locally assessed and locally administered tax. There is no state property tax

Property tax brings in the most money of all taxes available to local government to  pay for schools, roads, police and firemen, emergency response services, libraries, parks and other services provided by local government.

Texas offers a variety of partial or total (absolute) exemptions from appraised property values used to determine local property taxes. A partial exemption removes a percentage or a fixed dollar amount of a property’s value from taxation. A total (absolute) exemption excludes the entire property from taxation. Taxing units are mandated by the state to offer certain (mandatory) exemptions and have the option to decide locally on whether or not to offer others (local option).

Exemptions from property tax require applications in most circumstances. Applications for property tax exemptions are filed with appraisal districts. The general deadline for filing an exemption application is before May 1. Appraisal district chief appraisers are responsible for determining whether or not property qualifies for an exemption.

If you purchased a home in 2015, you must file your exemption application between January 1st and April 30th of 2016. Here are the most common exemptions:

Residence Homestead Exemption

Tax Code Section 11.13(b) requires school districts to offer a $25,000 exemption on residence homesteads and Tax Code Section 11.13(n) allows any taxing unit the option to decide locally to offer a separate residence homestead exemption of up to 20 percent of a property’s appraised value. The local option exemption cannot be less than $5,000. Tax Code Section 11.13(a) requires counties that collect farm-to-market or flood control taxes to offer a $3,000 residence homestead exemption.

In our area a Residence Homestead Exemption caps your appraised value increase to no more than 10% per year! This is possibly the biggest benefit of these type of exemption. It also affords protection against certain liens and debt collections.

There are no specific qualifications for the general homestead exemption other than the owner has an ownership interest in the property and uses the property as the owner’s principal residence. An applicant is required to state that he or she does not claim an exemption on another residence homestead in or outside of Texas.

Over 65 and Disabled Persons

For persons age 65 or older or disabled, Tax Code Section 11.13(c) requires school districts to offer an additional $10,000 residence homestead exemption and Tax Code Section 11.13(d) allows any taxing unit the option to decide locally to offer a separate residence homestead exemption. This local option exemption cannot be less than $3,000.

To qualify for the age 65 or older local option exemption, the owner must be age 65 or older and live in the house. If the age 65 or older homeowner dies, the surviving spouse may continue to receive the local option exemption if the surviving spouse is age 55 or older at the time of death and lives in and owns the home and applies for the exemption.

A disabled person must meet the definition of disabled for the purpose of receiving disability insurance benefits under the Federal Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Act.

A person who qualifies as both age 65 or older and disabled does not qualify for both, but must choose which exemption to claim.

Veterans

Tax Code Section 11.22 provides partial exemptions for any property owned by disabled veterans and surviving spouses and children of deceased disabled veterans and Tax Code Section 11.132 provides a partial exemption for residence homesteads donated to disabled veterans by charitable organizations that also extends to surviving spouses who have not remarried. The amount of exemption is determined according to percentage of service-connected disability. More information on the amount of the exemption can be found in the FAQ- Disabled Veterans Exemption.

Tax Code Section 11.131 entitles a disabled veteran who receives 100 percent disability compensation due to a service-connected disability and a rating of 100 percent disabled or of individual unemployability to a total property tax exemption on the veteran’s residence homestead.

This exemption extends to a surviving spouse who was married to a disabled veteran who qualified or would have qualified for this exemption if it has been in effect at the time of the veteran’s death provided:

  • the surviving spouse has not remarried;
  • the property was the residence homestead of the surviving spouse when the veteran died and;
  • the property remains the residence homestead of the surviving spouse.

Tax Code Section 11.133 entitles a surviving spouse of a member of the U.S. armed services killed in action to a total property tax exemption on his or her residence homestead if the surviving spouse has not remarried since the death of the armed services member.

Charitable Organizations and Businesses

Texas law allows for a number of exemptions for charitable organizations and businesses. Please refer to the Comptroller’s publication Texas Property Tax Exemptions for more information about these exemptions. Most of these exemptions have specific application forms that can be found through the exemption forms link in the box above.

 Texas Property Tax Calendar

January 2016
Jan 1st Effective date for all Property Tax Appraisals
Jan 31st Last day to pay previous year’s (2015) Property Taxes without penalty
Jan 31st Last day to file Late Protest of prior year’s Tax Appraisal  (Sec 25.25)
April 2016
April 15th Last day to file Business Personal Property Rendition
April 30th Last day to file Homestead Exemptions and Special Valuation Applications such as Open Space 1-d-1 (Ag Use)
May 2016
May 1st Notice of Appraised Value mailed by Appraisal District
May 31st Last day to file written protest to contest Proposed Tax Appraisal or Exemption Denial, unless Notices are mailed after May 1st.
July 2016
July 1st Delinquent Taxes from previous year reach total of 27% penalty and interest.
September 2016
Sept 30th Taxing Units adopt current year Tax Rates
October 2016
Oct 15th –30th Taxing Units mail Annual Property Tax Statements.  Payable by January 31st of the following year

 

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