Taxes. Nobody likes them; everybody pays them. I’m sure when you considered buying a home you heard about the potential tax savings. Now you own a home and pay your own property taxes. You want to pay as little as you have to, because who would want to pay more? The good news is that you can reduce your property taxes by claiming a homestead exemption!
What is a homestead exemption?
A homestead exemption (HS) removes a slice of your home’s value from being taxed. A homestead is a separate structure, condominium or manufactured home on owned or leased land up to 20 acres. To qualify for a homestead exemption, you must:
- Own the property
- Use it as your primary residence as of January 1 of the year in which you are applying
- The address on your drivers license must match the address you are claiming the HS exemption on.
How much is my homestead exemption?
Texas law requires school districts provide a $25,000 exemption for property tax. So if your home is appraised at $100,000 and you qualify for a homestead exemption, you pay school taxes as if your home was worth $75,000. Taxing units also have the option to offer a separate exemption, which will vary based on where you live. Travis County offers a 20% exemption and Williamson County offers a $3000 exemption for the special tax collected to farm-to-market roads. With your HS exemption, your county cannot raise the appraised value of your home by more than 10% each year, even if the actual value is greater. With the current rate of appreciation for many homeowners, this has saved many people a lot of money over the past few years!
What other exemptions are available?
The most common other exemptions claimed are the Senior Exemption (Over 65), Disabled Exemption and Veteran’s Exemption. Both the Senior Exemption and Disabled Exemption requires school districts to offer an additional $10,000 HS but one cannot qualify for both. When you turn 65, you may also qualify for a “tax ceiling” on your school taxes; that is, the school taxes on your home cannot increase as long as you own and live in that home. The Veteran’s Exemption is available to disable veterans and the surviving dependents and entitles a disabled vet an exemption equal to his service-connected disability, up to 100%. Here is a list of most of HS exemptions.
How do I apply for my homestead exemption?
You can apply for FREE for your HS exemption by completing and turning in the correct form to your local county tax office. For Williamson County, you can also apply online. When you purchase a home, you will likely receive many official looking pieces in the mail offering services to file your HS exemption for you for a fee. THIS IS A SCAM. Please save yourself some money by filing out and mailing in the form yourself! You can apply for your HS exemption from January 1 – April 30 in the year after you purchased your home.
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Homestead Exemption Form for Travis County (FORM)
Mailing Address: P.O. BOX 149012, Austin, TX 78714-9012
Mailing Address: 625 FM 1460, Georgetown, TX 78626-8050
Homestead Exemption Form for Hayes County (FORM)
Mailing Address: 21001 IH 35 North, Kyle, Texas 78640
Homestead Exemption Form for Bastrop County (FORM)
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 578, Bastrop, TX 78602