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Property Taxes

What is a homestead property tax exemption?

A homestead exemption removes part of the value of your property from taxation and therefore lowers the amount of your property taxes. You can get a homestead exemption if 1) you own it, and 2) it is your principal place of residence in January, when the county assesses annual property taxes. The amount of the exemption depends on state and county laws.

  • When to apply. The application is one-time only, free and there is no fee to apply. File it before April 30 for
    the exemption to apply for that calendar year. A retroactive exemption is available for up to one year after
    the property tax delinquency date (normally February 1st). The Application, Form 15-114 is available for free
    from the Texas Comptroller.
  • What qualifies as homestead. A “homestead” can be a separate structure, condominium or a manufactured
    home on a rented lot, as long as you own it, for up to 20 acres, depending on location. Manufactured homes
    must meet additional requirements for a Statement of Ownership and Location.
  • School taxes. All residence homestead owners are allowed a $25,000 homestead exemption from their
    home's value for school taxes.
  • Married owners, co-owners. A married couple can claim only one homestead. For co-owners, the exemption
    is based on the share that you own. If you own a 25% interest in the property, your exemption is based on
    25% of your homestead’s taxable value, not the entire value.
  • Moving away. If you move away, the exemption still applies if 1) you do not establish another primary
    residence and 2) you intend to return. Examples: entering a nursing home, going away to college, military
    deployment, or sent abroad for business or education.
  • Renting your home. If you rent part of your home or use part of it for a business, the exemption still applies
    to the entire home, including the rented portion.
  • Disaster. If your homestead is damaged or destroyed by disaster and you cannot live in it, the
    exemption will still apply for up to two years from the date the physical preparation for rebuilding begins.
    You must build on the same property and live there afterward.

Will my homestead exemption protect me from foreclosure or collection?

NO. Two different laws apply to homesteads: The Texas Tax Code allows you to reduce annual property taxes on your homestead. The Texas Property Code protects your homestead from a forced sale to satisfy creditors
such as payday lenders and debt collectors. Your homestead is NOT protected from foreclosure for certain debts, including:
• unpaid property taxes or property tax loan;
• defaulted mortgage (loan to purchase home);
• defaulted liens related to a division of property in a divorce (owelty of partition only);
• defaulted refinance of a valid lien (including a federal tax lien);
• defaulted home equity loan;
• defaulted reverse mortgage;
• defaulted loan to convert a manufactured home from personal property to real property.

How much will I save with the exemption?

It depends on the type of exemption and the amount allowed by your local appraisal district. A homestead valued at $200,000 with the 20% exemption ($40,000) means you would pay property taxes as if your home were valued at $160,000. Other exemptions:
Over 65. You are 65 or older and live in the homestead. If you are over 65 when you die, your surviving
spouse 55 or older will get your over-65 exemption. School taxes will be frozen (will not increase) after age
65.
Disability. You (not your child) have disability that would qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. If you
are over 65 and have a disability, you can only take one exemption, not both.
Veterans. Veterans who are disabled, their spouses and survivors, and spouses and survivors of military
personnel killed on active duty. The amount depends on the percentage of service-connected disability.
100% disabled = 100% exemption.

What happens if I don’t pay my property taxes?

The county can put a lien on your homestead and foreclose on your home. After foreclosure, you have two years to buy it back. If your property taxes have been delinquent for more than 20 years, your homestead will not be subject to foreclosure for unpaid property taxes.