2021 Homestead Exemptions

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!

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!

Know Your Neighborhood

The personal safety of you and your family should always come first. Discover the lowest crime neighborhoods in any city or town before you invest or select a location for your home or business.

CRIME ACTIVITY BY AREA

City of Austin | http://www.austintexas.gov/GIS/CrimeViewer/ Searches may be accomplished using zip code geographic boundaries or the census tract Search anywhere in the city through an interactive mapping program called Crime Report Viewer

Crime Reports | https://www.crimereports.com The nation’s largest collection of law enforcement agencies committed to transparency, public access, and citizen engagement. This map system helps residents see and understand where crime is happening in their neighborhood and engage with their local law enforcement agencies.

SpotCrime | https://spotcrime.com Maps crime incidents, plots them on Google Maps, and delivers alerts via email, Facebook, Twitter, SMS, RSS and a multitude of other platforms. The data comes from police departments, news reports and user-generated content.

Neighborhood Scout | https://www.nelahborhoodscout.com An instant objective assessment of property and violent crime risks and rates for every U.S. address and neighborhood. Offering seamless national coverage and up to 90% accuracy.

CRIME ACTIVITY BY COMMUNITY MEMBER

Criminal History Name Search | https://records.txdps.state.tx.us/DpsWebsite/Criminal History/ Provided By The Texas Department of Public Safety Information includes arrests, prosecutions and the disposition of the case for persons arrested for Class B misdemeanor or greater violation of Texas criminal statutes.

LOCAL POLICE STATIONS

USA Police Stations by Highway Route | http//wwwroad-police.com A database of 20,000+ Police Departments Local Police Departments for non-emergency issues.

If you have an emergency contact 911

Places to Pick Your Perfect Christmas Tree!

We are only a few weeks away from Christmas! As Thanksgiving festivities subside, many people go searching for their perfect Christmas tree! In the Austin area, there are many options for choose-and-cut your own trees to fresh Frasier Firs from North Carolina or artificial trees that you can see in person or buy online. As you search for your perfect tree, here are some recommendations on where to start!

Brungot Farms

Brungot Farms Tree Forest is open just north of the Austin City limits at the Twin Lakes YMCA in Cedar Park. Tree pricing is available on their website or you can visit the open air display with lots of space between trees for social distancing while you shop. Delivery options include porch-drop and in-home set-up. Brungot Farms Tree Forest at Twin Lakes YMCA – 204 E Little Elm Trail, Cedar Park, TX 78613 https://brungotfarms.com

Elgin Christmas Tree Farm

Choose-and-cut your locally grown Virginia Pine or Leyland Cypress at Elgin Christmas Tree Farm! The farm provides a bow saw and will shake and bale your tree so you are all set to take it home! For customers who love Fraser Firs, the farm has imported Fraser Firs from North Caroline which come in freshly cut. Elgin Christmas Tree Farm 120 Natures Way, Elgin, TX 78621https://www.elginchristmastreefarm.com/

Evergreen Farms Christmas Trees

Evergreen Farms is a choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm a short drive from Austin, in Elgin, TX. Choose from Virginia Pine, Leyland Cypress and Arizona Cypress trees and experience the fresh air of the Texas country while you pick our your perfect Christmas tree! Pre-cut Noble and Fraser firs are also available. The farm furnishes saws for cutting and harvest your tree but make sure to bring your own measuring tools! After you have harvested your tree, Evergreen Farms will shake the tree and wrap it in netting for easy transporting. Twine is also available. There are also many other activities to enjoy at the farm, including games, a maze, a playground, nature trial, farm animals and gift shot. On weekends there is a campfire for roasting marshmallows! Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm 242 Monkey Road, Elgin, Texas 78621 https://www.evergreen-farms.com/christmas-trees

Home Depot

Home Depot offers in-person and online shopping for Christmas trees with a large variety of sizes, types and shapes. Check out your local Home Depot or shop online at https://www.homedepot.com/b/Holiday-Decorations-Christmas-Decorations-Christmas-Trees/N-5yc1vZc3rz

Lowes

Lowes offers in-person shopping for Christmas Trees in their Garden Center. With a large variety of trees in different shapes, sizes and types, they are sure to have the perfect tree for your home! Check out your local Lowes or see what they have online at https://www.lowes.com/c/Christmas-trees-Christmas-decorations-Holiday-decorations

Optimist Club of Austin Trees

The Optimist Club of Austin has been selling Christmas trees since 1952! All of the profits from the lot go to youth charities in Austin. With over 4000 trees and 5 different types of trees, they are bound to have the perfect tree for your family! They also have wreathes and garland available. Check out their tree lot at the corner of San Gabriel and North Lamar. The Optimist Club of Austin – 2813 San Gabriel, Austin, TX 78705  https://austinoptimist.com/tree-lot

Papa Noels

Papa Noel’s offers some of the finest True Fur trees from award-winning farms across the country at 6 convenient locations around the Austin area. You can even go online to select your tree, stand, wreaths or garland and have it delivered and set up in your home! Papa Noel’s will deliver within a 5-mile radius of each of it lot locations. Papa Noel Christmas Tree See Multiple Locations – https://papanoeltrees.com/contact/

Robinson Family Farm Christmas Trees

The Robinson Family Farm proudly offers premium pre-cut Fraser First grown in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina. Trees range from 6’ to 15’ and prices vary based on height. They also offer tree delivery, handmade wreathes and tree stands. Spend some extra time viewing the Christmas trees while you enjoy a hot chocolate or hot mulled cider! Robinson Family Farms – 3708 White Owl Lane, Temple, TX 76501https://www.therobinsonfamilyfarm.com/christmas-trees

Vote 2020 – Central Texas

November 3rd is our national election for the President of the United States as well as for many other state and local offices, referendums and propositions. The 2020 election is shaping up to be one of the heated and controversial ones in recent history! Many have voted already in early voting or by mail but others have waited for election day, November 3rd. We strongly encourage everyone who is able to vote to make their voice heard by voting this Tuesday!

If you have yet to place your vote and are planning on voting on Tuesday, November 3rd, we have compiled some helpful information and links to help you.

Travis County

Where can I vote? Here is a list of polling locations in Travis County on election day.

When are polls open on election day? Election day hours are 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

Am I registered to vote? What is my Precinct Number? Your precinct number can be found on your voter registration card. If you do not have your card, are unsure of your precinct number, or need to confirm you are registered to vote, you can look online at www.votetravis.com . You can also use the 24 hour automated telephone system at (512) 238-VOTE (238-8683).

What type of ID do I need to vote in Travis County? Click here to visit the Travis County Voter Identification Requirements page to see a list of acceptable forms of photo ID, and options for voters who do not possess one and cannot reasonably obtain one.

Can I see a sample ballot? Click here to see sample ballots for Travis County.

Williamson County

Where can I vote? Registered voters in Williamson County can vote at any of the locations listed on this county election website. You can also CLICK HERE to see polling place wait times and directions from your current location.

When are polls open on election day? Election day hours are 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

Am I registered to vote? What is my Precinct Number? You can find your check your voter registration status, find your polling site or view your sample ballot by following this link.

What type of ID do I need to vote in Williamson County? CLICK HERE for information on ID requirements in Williamson County.

Hayes County

Where can I vote? Registered voters in Hayes County can vote at the locations listed in this document from Hayes County. Addresses are also included.

When are polls open on election day? Election day hours are 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. You can see a sample ballot by following this link.

Am I registered to vote? What is my Precinct Number? You can find out your precinct number on this website from the Texas Secretary of State.

What type of ID do I need to vote in Hayes County? CLICK HERE for information on ID requirements in Hayes County.