Property taxes in Texas are different than in most other states in the country. Because the Lone Star state doesn’t have an income tax, Texas relies heavily on property taxes to pay for public employees, like police and firefighters, teachers, and local and state government workers.

That also means that Texas has some of the highest property tax rates in the country. According to SmartAsset.com, the Texas property tax average is 1.75%, but those rates can vary by county. For instance, the Travis County tax rate reaches 1.77% (closer to the state average), while the nearby Williamson County tax rate is 2.06%.

What’s the difference? Actually, a lot. Consider a house worth $250,000. In Travis County, the base for property taxes is $4,425, while in Williamson County, it’s $5,150.

With the recent increase in housing prices and mortgage interest rates, it’s helpful for new property owners to understand how their taxes are calculated. The market value of the property and home is only one part of the equation; the other part is the Tax Assessable Value and understanding of the Central Appraisal Districts.

CENTRAL APPRAISAL DISTRICTS

Each county in Texas has its own Central Appraisal District that issues Property Tax Valuations. These evaluations are determined by the property’s

  • Market Value (what the Central Appraisal District believes the property is worth)
  • Taxed Assessable Value (the number of taxable exemptions that can reduce the value, thus reducing the property tax)

QUALIFYING FOR EXEMPTIONS

There are several exemptions available to Texas property owners to help lower their tax burden. You must file for an exemption after you purchase your property, but you don’t need to file every year unless you receive a written request from your Central Appraisal District.

Available exemptions are:

GENERAL RESIDENCE HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION:

This is available for residents who own and live on their property during the year for which they are applying. Most homeowners qualify for this exemption.

PERSON AGE 65 OR OLDER (OR SURVIVING SPOUSE) EXEMPTION:

This exemption is available to property owners the year they turn 65. This exemption guarantees that the school taxes a homeowner pays each year will not exceed what was paid in the first or second year of qualification (whichever is lower).

DISABLED PERSON (OR SURVIVING SPOUSE) EXEMPTION:

Homeowners who meet the Social Security Administration’s standards for disability may qualify for this exemption. However, you don’t need to receive monetary social security benefits to qualify. Documentation of a disability must be submitted with an application.

100% DISABLED VETERAN (OR SURVIVING SPOUSE) EXEMPTION:

Veterans receiving 100% disability compensation may qualify to receive an exemption. Submit documentation from the Department of Veterans Affairs with your application.

DISABLED VETERAN OR SURVIVOR EXEMPTION:

Partial exemptions are permitted for veterans who are disabled and own property. The exemption amount varies and is determined by the percentage of a service-connected disability. Like other exemptions, documentation is required and to qualify, homeowners must be 1) a veteran, 2) a resident of Texas, 3) classified as disabled with a service-connected disability of 10% or more.

DONATED RESIDENCE OF PARTIALLY DISABLED VETERAN (OR SURVIVING SPOUSE) EXEMPTION:

If a partially disabled veteran lives in a home on property that was donated by a charitable organization, this exemption can reduce the tax burden.

SURVIVING SPOUSE OF AN ARMED FORCES MEMBER KILLED IN ACTION EXEMPTION:

A surviving spouse of any member of the U.S. armed services who is killed in military action is allowed an exemption as long as they have not remarried.

SURVIVING SPOUSE OF A FIRST RESPONDER KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY EXEMPTION:

Similarly, a surviving spouse of any first responder killed in the line of duty is allowed an exemption as long as they have not remarried.

CALCULATING PROPERTY TAXES

The tax bill is calculated by multiplying the taxable/assessed value of the property by the tax rate for each entity that taxes the property.

The tax office makes the bills available in October and December, and homeowners must pay bills by Jan. 31. Penalties begin to accrue beginning Feb. 1, including interest.

Property owners who need help paying property taxes can check out property tax assistance programs in their CAD.

APPRAISAL PROTESTS AND APPEALS

All property owners have the right to protest the appraisal of their property. If you disagree with the value of the apprai