Travis County property taxes can take a significant bite out of homeowners’ annual budgets. However, you can reduce your yearly property tax bills by ensuring you receive your eligible homestead exemptions.
Texas has a statewide homestead exemption to help homeowners reduce the burdens of paying for their primary residence. In Travis County, if you own and occupy your house on the first of the year, you may qualify for tax relief from the homestead exemptions.
A homestead exemption reduces the amount you owe in local property taxes on the home you own and live in. The exemption reduces the amount of your home’s value against which local property taxes are assessed.
For example, if your home is assessed at $200,000, a $40,000 homestead exemption means the taxing unit only levies taxes against $160,000 in value. A $40,000 exemption saves homeowners $400 annually for every one percent in levied property tax.
The Texas Tax Code requires every local school district to provide a general homestead exemption of $40,000. Other taxing units, like county and city governments, may optionally provide their own exemptions. These optional exemptions must be between a minimum of $5,000 and a maximum of 20% of the home’s assessed value.
Senior citizens in Travis County over 65 years old receive an additional $25,000 residence homestead exemption for their local school district taxes. Non-school district taxing units can also optionally offer a senior homestead exemption of no less than $3,000.
Additionally, your school district taxes are capped once you qualify for the over-65 homestead exemption. The amount you pay for school taxes will not rise above the amount you paid the first or second year you qualified, whichever is lower.
Texas taxing units offer additional homestead exemptions, such as for disabled citizens or disabled veterans and their survivors. To ensure you know which other exemptions you may qualify for, speak to a knowledgeable advisor like the team at Watchtower.
To qualify for a Travis County general homestead exemption, you must own and reside in the house as of January 1. The home must be your primary residence, and you are not allowed to claim a homestead exemption on another property (whether in Texas or elsewhere).
Qualifying for a senior citizen’s homestead exemption is similar. Like the general exemption, you must live in and own the home on January 1, and it must be your primary residence. However, you do not have to wait until January following your birthday to receive the exemption. You can apply for the senior citizen exemption and freeze once your 65 birthday has passed.
The Travis Central Appraisal District (TCAD) is responsible for verifying exemptions and applying them to taxing units throughout the county. You do not automatically receive a general homestead exemption. Instead, you must apply for any qualified exemptions.
To apply for an exemption with TCAD, you can visit the office or mail a form. However, the TCAD website offers a convenient application portal as well as more information about exemptions within the county.
Once you have applied for and received a qualified homestead exemption, generally, you do not need to reapply. However, if you move, you will need to reapply, as exemptions don't travel with homeowners. Additionally, if your exemption qualifications change or TCAD's Chief Appraiser requests a new written application, you will need to reapply.
Just because you're receiving your homestead exemption doesn't mean there are no opportunities to further lower your taxes. In Travis County, a property tax protest can not only save you money this year, but it can also lock in savings that benefit you in the future.
However, Travis County property tax protests can be complicated. You need to meet deadlines, gather evidence, and present your case before an Appraisal Review Board (ARB). Luckily, Texas law allows qualified professionals to represent you every step of the way.
The team at Watchtower Protest will ensure you receive all the homestead exemptions you qualify for and assist you in challenging your home's taxable value. You can sign-up for Watchtower’s risk-free services through our website and let our professionals help you navigate lowering your Texas property taxes.
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