If you bought a home in 2018, you should be getting ready to file your Texas Homestead Exemption! This exemption allows homeowners to reduce the taxes owed on their home by a percentage or dollar amount and is available to any homeowner who is a) living in their home as of January 1st, and b) is using the home as a primary residence (exceptions apply for those 65 years and older and those with disabilities - please see below). It's free to apply and the deadline is April 30th. The homestead exemption is a necessary step for anyone wanting to save money on their taxes - so how do you file?
COMPLETE THE APPLICATION
Your first step is completing the homestead exemption application for your county of residence. If you are over 65 or disabled, be sure to follow the special instructions provided within the application. If you prefer to fill out your application manually and mail it in, you can find the fillable application for Travis County and Williamson County below. Once you fill out the required fields, download and print the document, then submit it by mail to the designated appraisal district.
Some counties have made it even easier by allowing homeowners to file directly online! Find your county below and click the link to be brought to their online application. You will need to have a copy of your Texas driver's license ready to upload unless you are exempt from this requirement - see exemptions on the application.
- Hays County
- Sign in or create an account on Hays CAD.
- Under "Choose a Form," select "Homestead Exemption" from the drop down list.
- Fill in the required fields indicated on the form.
- At the bottom of the page, click "Review & Submit."
- Travis County - in addition to your license, you will need the owner ID and PIN number on your Notice of Appraised Value.
- Sign in or create a new account on Travis CAD.
- Fill in the required fields indicated on the form.
- Review and submit the form.
- Williamson County
- In the "Property Search" bar, type in the address you are applying for. Select your address.
- On the details page, click the "HS Exemption" button.
- On the next page, many fields will already be filled out for you. Fill in the remaining required fields.
- At the bottom of the page, click "Sign & Submit."
BENEFITS OF FILING
We mentioned before that the homestead exemption reduces the taxes owed on your home - but by how much? The amount of your exemption depends on a number of factors, including where your home is located and how much it is worth. Here is the breakdown of exemptions from the Texas Comptroller:
- School taxes - a $25,000 exemption automatically applies for school taxes.
- County taxes - you are allowed a $3,000 exemption if the county you reside in collects a special tax for flood control or farm-to-market roads.
- Optional percentage - any taxing unit (city, county, school, or special district) can offer an additional exemption up to 20% of a home's value. If this exemption is offered, the amount may be no less than $5,000.
- Age 65 and older and disabled exemptions - in addition to the $25,000 school taxes exemption, individuals aged 65+ and/or disabled may claim an additional $10,000 school taxes exemption. The county may also offer an additional exemption to these taxpayers of at least $3,000; if this exemption is offered, the individuals must claim it instead of the county tax exemption.
Another benefit to the homestead exemption is that it limits the annual increase in property taxes for your home. Per the Texas Property Tax Basics, the annual appraised value of the homestead cannot exceed the lesser of:
- The market value of the property; or
- The sum of:
- 10 percent of the appraised value of the property for last year;
- the appraised value of the property for last year; and
- the market value of all new improvements to the property.
Additionally, a Texas Homestead Exemption protects the entire value of your home against bankruptcy and creditors. This means your home cannot be seized to satisfy creditor claims, but it doesn't mean it's completely immune to unique circumstances. See Chapter 41 in the Texas Property Code for more information on homestead exemptions, and consult your real estate attorney with any concerns.
After you’ve submitted your application, it can take four to six weeks for any action to be taken. If your application is rejected, you will be notified and given the opportunity to challenge the decision. Each homestead exemption situation is unique. If you have any questions regarding your situation, contact your county appraisal district's office.
After your exemption is accepted, you don’t have to apply again the following tax year. A homestead exemption lasts as long as you live in that residence, but be sure to revisit your exemption status if you become disabled or turn 65, as this can impact what exemptions you qualify for. If you move to a new home, the exemption on your old home expires and you will need to file a new homestead exemption for your new residence.
When it comes to taxes and protecting your personal assets, it's best to consult your attorney or CPA to make sure you're making the right decision for your personal situation. If you have any questions about the Texas Homestead Exemption, please refer to the application for your county of residence or visit the Texas Comptroller’s website, and be sure to contact us for all your Austin real estate needs!