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 (2021 – so you had to close in 2020)
- The address on your driver’s license must match the address you are claiming the HS exemption on.
When can I claim my homestead exemption?
You can file your regular homestead exemption application between January 1st and April 30th each year. You can first file for your homestead exemption on January 1st of the year following when you purchase your home. For example, if you purchased your home in 2020, you can now file in 2021. If you did not close until January of 2021, you must wait to file until 2022.
How much is my homestead exemption in Texas?
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. For example, 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 in Texas?
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. Exemptions other than the homestead exemption do not have to be filed between January and April and can be filed as soon as you qualify for them.
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 filling out and mailing in the form yourself!
- Homestead Exemption Form for Williamson County (FORM) or (Fill it out ONLINE). Mailing Address: 625 FM 1460, Georgetown, TX 78626-8050
- Homestead Exemption Form for Travis County (FORM). Mailing Address: P.O. BOX 149012, Austin, TX 78714-9012
- Homestead Exemption Form for Hayes County (FORM). Mailing Address: 21001 North IH 35, Kyle, Texas 78640
- Homestead Exemption Form for Bastrop County (FORM). Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org Mailing Address: P.O. Drawer 578, Bastrop, Texas 78602
If you have questions about your homestead exemption, property taxes or any other real estate question, contact us and we’ll get back to you right away. I hope you have found all of this information helpful!