Are You Getting All Your Texas Property Tax Breaks?

Not happy about your Texas property tax bill? Here are your options.

Your Texas home is, as you’re all too aware, subject to local property taxes – every year, just when you'd forgotten about them for a while. Of course, you want to make sure that you’re not paying more into the system than you have to.

So, how can you reduce your Texas property tax burden? There are two main ways to do so. The first is potentially available to all homeowners. The second depends on whether you meet certain qualifications. If you meet those qualifications, you can seek tax relief using either or both methods.

Method #1 – Appeal the Taxable Value of Your Home

You may know that the Texas authorities compute your property tax by multiplying your home’s taxable value by the applicable tax rate.

Example: The appraiser has placed a taxable value of $200,000 on the Garcias' home. If the tax rate is 1%, they will owe $2,000 in property tax.

If you can reduce the taxable value of your home, you property tax bill will be lower.

Example: The Garcias appeal the $200,000 taxable value of their home. The Texas appeals board reduces that value to $150,000. Now, they owe only $1,500 in property tax.

If you believe that the tax appraiser has misjudged the value of your home – or if the taxable value is higher than that of similar homes – you might want to pursue an appeal. For more information, read Should You Challenge Your Property Tax Assessment in Texas?, and Procedures for Challenging Your Property Tax Assessment in Texas.

Method #2 –Get All the Tax Breaks You’re Entitled To

Texas allows for reduced property taxes if you meet certain requirements. The chief programs in Texas are summarized here.

  • Basic homestead exemption. Your principal residence in Texas is entitled to a $3,000 exemption from county taxes, and $15,000 from school taxes.
  • Senior citizens and disabled people. If you’re disabled, or are 65 years of age or older, you can get an additional $10,000 exemption from school taxes in Texas. Some taxing districts may allow an additional exemption.
  • Older disabled veterans. You qualify for a $12,000 exemption if you’re 65 or older, and have a disability rating of at least 10%. You also qualify if you’re blind in one or both eyes, or have lost one or both limbs.
  • Other disabled veterans. If you’re under 65 years of age and a disabled veteran, you’re entitled to an exemption. The amount will depend on the size of your disability rating.
  • Veteran’s surviving spouse. A disabled veteran’s surviving spouse, who has not remarried, is entitled to the same exemption that the veteran was at the time of his or her death. An exemption is also available for the surviving spouse – and minor children – of a military person who dies while on active duty.

Contact your county tax appraiser for complete details on these and other Texas exemptions, including any required forms you need to complete and the deadline for filing those forms. You can get contact information for your county appraiser from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Just click on the name of your county.

Depending on the complexity of your situation, you may want to seek legal help. To find an experienced real estate lawyer in Texas, check out Nolo’s Lawyer Directory.

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