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Lower your home’s taxable value by $15,000
Wednesday, September 14, 2011 • Posted September 15, 2011 10:03 AM

Did you know that filing a four-page application with your appraisal district could knock $15,000 off the taxable value of your home? If you qualify for a residential homestead exemption, you’ll receive a reduction on the part of your home’s value used for school taxes, which will lower your tax bill.

Do I qualify?

To qualify for the exemption, your home must meet the definition of residence homestead: The owner must be an individual, not a business entity, and use the home as his principal residence on Jan. 1 of the tax year. (The Jan. 1 deadline doesn’t apply for disabled homeowners or homeowners who are 65 or older.)

What proof must I provide?

A new law that went into effect Sept. 1 requires applicants for all homestead exemptions to provide a copy of their Texas driver’s license or state ID card and vehicle registration receipt. The documents must show the same address as the property for which the exemption is requested. Applicants who don’t have a vehicle can use a utility bill with the correct address in place of the registration receipt.

Can I move away temporarily?

You can temporarily move away from your home and still use the exemption if you don’t establish another principal residence and you plan to return. Renting part of your home or using part of it for a business does not disqualify the rest of your home for the exemption.

What kinds of exemptions are there?

If you qualify for a homestead exemption, you’ll receive a $15,000 reduction on the value of your property for school taxes. Counties that assess a special tax for farm-to-market roads or flood control may offer a $3,000 exemption for this tax. There are exemptions for some disabled U.S. veterans and surviving spouses and children of members of the armed forces killed while on active duty.

All taxing entities, like school districts, cities, counties or special districts, can offer an optional exemption for up to 20 percent of your property’s value. This percentage exemption is on top of other homestead exemptions for which the homeowner qualifies. Taxing entities may also offer additional homestead exemptions to homeowners who are age 65 or older or disabled.

How much does it cost to file a homestead exemption?

Nothing. There is no fee for applying for a homestead exemption. You may receive an official-looking letter asking for a fee to take care of your homestead exemption application. This is a scam. These letters usually start appearing in mailboxes during the first few weeks of the year.

For more information…

Visit the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts’ Web site, www.window.state.tx.us, and go to the Property Tax heading in the Texas Taxes section. You can also check out TexasRealEstate.com, the online source for consumer-friendly real estate advice in Texas.

For your real estate needs, contact RE/MAX Genesis at 830-833-2000.

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