The state of Texas does not levy any statewide property taxes. Instead, the Texas Constitution allows counties, school districts, cities, and other special districts to tax nonexempt property within their borders. These taxes fund governmental services such as roads, police and fire departments, libraries, and other priorities.
However, just because there is no statewide property tax does not mean the Texas Constitution does not address the issue of property taxes. In fact, the Constitution offers homeowners measures to reduce tax burdens and enforce fair taxation.
Article 8 of the Texas Constitution addresses taxes. The first significant restraint on property taxes included in the Constitution is the requirement that all “taxation be equal and uniform.” For homeowners, this ensures that your house cannot be singled out to pay a larger tax burden than your neighbors.
This prohibition prevents a local government from charging you higher taxes for any reason: your race, religion, employment status, or just because the powers that be do not like you. Additionally, this constitutional rule keeps tax districts from charging property taxes based on whether you use the government services. For example, you cannot opt-out of local school district taxes because you do not have children.
The Texas Constitution's second key tenant of tax fairness is the requirement that taxes are levied in proportion to your property's fair market value. Though the Constitution requires taxes to be equal and uniform, this does not mean that every homeowner pays the same amount. The tax rates you pay will not differ from other homeowners in your taxing district, but the actual amount you pay is based on how much your home is worth.
Each Texas county has an appraisal district responsible for assessing the fair market value of every taxable property within its borders. The assessed value of your home is then multiplied by your local tax rate(s) to calculate your total tax bill.
The Texas Constitution also includes some relief from property tax burdens for homeowners. Every school district is required to exempt $40,000 of the assessed value of a homestead from taxation. This residence homestead exemption is only available for your primary personal residence, meaning you cannot claim the exemption on vacation homes or rental properties.
Likewise, there is a provision of the Texas Constitution that limits property taxes for senior citizen homeowners. Sometimes called the “senior freeze,” this measure caps school district property taxes on the primary residence of anyone 65 or older. This is an exception to the uniform and equal taxation requirements, which prevents the school tax burden on a senior's primary residence from rising once they reach age 65.
In the May 2022 election, Texas voters recently approved two amendments to the state Constitution to secure limited property tax relief. First, Proposition 1 will allow senior citizens and disabled homeowners to reap the benefits of an earlier school district tax reform. Previously, those subject to a senior freeze (or a similar freeze due to disability) saw their neighbors’ property tax burden decrease without any corresponding savings.
Proposition 2 extended additional tax relief to all homeowners. This measure increased the constitutionally required school district exemption from $25,000 of a home's value to $40,000. The bigger annual exemption will deliver modest savings every year on your primary residence's taxes.
Finally, the Texas Constitution includes a right for all homeowners to enforce equal and just taxation. You can appeal your home’s assessed value as determined by your local appraisal district. By filing a property tax protest, you are claiming one of the most important rights afforded to property owners in Texas.
Watchtower Protest offers homeowners the opportunity to lower their Texas property tax bills with no risk. Because our experienced team only gets paid if we win your property tax protest, you owe us nothing out of pocket. Sign up for Watchtower's tax protest services today through our convenient online portal.
This blog post will tell you everything you need to know about filing a Texas Do It Yourself (DIY) property tax protest.