Texas Property Tax System
What is Property Tax?
Property taxes are local taxes that are assessed locally, collected locally and
used locally. You pay your property taxes to the local tax collector. The tax
collector distributes funds to schools, cities, and other local governments.
Local governments spend the funds on schools, roads, hospitals, police
departments, fire departments, and other programs.
Who is responsible for setting Property Taxes?
County Appraisal Districts appraise the value of your property. Appraisal Review
Boards settle disputes between taxpayers and property owners. Local Taxing Units
set budgets and property tax rates. County Assessor Collectors collect taxes
from property owners and distribute the funds to the local taxing units.
What are my rights under the Texas Constitution?
The constitution sets out five basic principals for property taxes in our state
Taxes must be equal and uniform. No single property or type of property should
pay more than its fair share. Property must be appraised on its current market
value. The price it would sell for when both the buyer and seller seek the best
price and neither is under pressure to buy or sell. Each property in a county
must have a single appraised value. This is guaranteed by the use of the county
appraisal districts. All property is taxable unless federal or state law exempts
it from the tax. Property owners have a right to reasonable notice of increases
in their appraised property value. More information on the Texas Property Tax
Code can be found at
What are my remedies?
If you believe that your property value determination is too high or if you
were denied an exemption or special appraisal valuation, you may protest to your
ARB. If you do not agree with the decision of the ARB you may take your case to
binding arbitration in some instances or to district court. You may speak during
public hearing when your elected officials are deciding how to spend you taxes
and are setting the tax rate. You may limit major tax increases through
elections to roll back or limit tax rates.
When is the deadline for paying my property taxes?
Taxes are due when you receive your tax statement. Tax collections begin around
October 1 and taxpayers have until January 31 of the following year to pay their
taxes. On February 1, penalty and interest charges begin accumulating on most
unpaid tax bills.
What happens if I don’t pay my taxes?
The longer you allow delinquent property taxes to go unpaid, the more expensive
If your property boundaries span more than one county you will receive appraisal
notices from each county appraisal district.
What exemptions are available?
There are several partial and absolute exemptions available. Some of these
exemptions include General Residential Homestead, Over 65, Over 55 Surviving
Spouse, Disability Homestead, Disabled Veterans, Charitable, Religious, Freeport
and Pollution Control.
Does my home qualify for an exemption?
As a general rule to qualify for an exemption you must own your home and it must
be your principal place of residence. Additional qualifications may apply based
on the exemption.
Will this protect me in case of a lawsuit?
Texas has two distinct laws for designating a homestead. The Texas Tax Code
offers homeowners a way to apply for homestead exemptions to reduce local
property taxes. The Texas Property Code allows homeowners to designate their
homesteads to protect them from a forced sale to satisfy creditors. This law
does not, however, protect the homeowner from tax foreclosure sales of their
homes for delinquent taxes. For more information on homestead designation as
provided by the Texas Property Code please contact the Office of Attorney
General at www.oag.state.tx.us
How much will I save?
An exemption removes part of the value of your property from taxation and lowers
your tax bill. In addition to the state mandated exemption amounts for school
taxes, each taxing unit decides whether to offer the optional exemption and at
what percentage. The amount of savings depends on the exemption and the amount
of exemption allowed by each taxing units.
Do I apply for a homestead exemption annually?
Only a one-time application is required, unless by written notice, the Chief
Appraiser requests the property owner to file a new application. However, a new
application is required when a property owner’s residence homestead is changed.
I own more than one home, can I get a homestead on both?
A person may not receive a homestead exemption for more than residence homestead
in the same year. You can receive a homestead exemption only for your main or
What if I owned the property before I was married?
You can still only have one exemption which must be claimed on your principal
I own my own homestead, but also own a home with my child that they live in.
Would they qualify for a homestead?
They must have ownership interest in the property to qualify and would only
receive a portion of the exemption based on the percent of ownership. My
exemption fell off from last year, why? Exemptions reflect the January 1 owner.
If you purchased a home after January 1st the exemption in place was for the
previous owner. You must file an exemption application.
I forgot to apply for my exemption, can I receive it retroactively?
You may file a late homestead exemption application if you file it no later than
one year after the date the taxes become delinquent.
Is it true that once I become 65 years of age, I will not have to pay any more
No, that is not necessarily true. If you are 65 or older your residence homestead
qualifies for more exemptions which will result in greater tax savings. The
amount of the exemptions that are granted by each taxing unit is subtracted from
the market value of your residence and the taxes are calculated on that “lower
value”. In addition, when you turn 65, you may receive a tax ceiling for your
total school taxes; that is, the school taxes on you residence cannot increase
as long as you own and live in that home. The ceiling is set at the amount you
pay in the year that you qualify for the aged 65 or older exemption. The school
taxes on your home subsequently may fall below the ceiling. If you significantly
improve your home (other than ordinary repairs and maintenance), tax ceilings
can go up. For example, if you add a room or garage to your home, your tax
ceiling can rise. It will also change if you move to a new home.
When do you apply if you are turning 65?
You may apply at anytime during the year of that birth date. You would receive
the exemption for the full year.
Do I need to file an application when I turn 65 or is it automatically added?
The appraisal district can only automatically process the over 65 exemption if it
has the appropriate documentation on hand. Your local appraisal district will
require proof of age to grant an over 65 exemption. Acceptable proof of age
includes either a copy of the front side of your driver's license or a copy of
your birth certificate or any official document reflecting your date of birth.
It is always best to file an exemption application with the appropriate
documents to ensure that the Over 65 exemption is processed.
If I am disabled and over 65 can I claim both exemptions in the same tax year?
You may not claim both an Over 65 and a disabled person’s exemption in the same
I have a disabled child. Would that qualify me for a disabled exemption?
No, the person applying for the exemption must own the home.
How do I transfer my senior citizen or disabled person tax ceiling?
You may transfer the same percentage of school taxes paid to another qualified
homestead in the state. If the county, city or special district grants the
limitation, you may transfer the same percentage of taxes paid to another
qualified homestead within that same taxing unit. To transfer the tax ceiling,
you must qualify for an Over-65 or Disabled Person exemption at your previous
residence and complete the Tax Ceiling Transfer form. A current Homestead
Exemption application must also be completed for the new residence.
What types of exemptions require an annual application?
The law requires an annual application by April 30 for some types of exemptions,
including property exempted from Taxation by Agreement (Property Tax Abatement),
Historical and Archeological Sites, exemption of Freeport Goods, and exemption
of Pollution Control property approved by the Texas Commission on Environment
Quality (TCEQ). Cemeteries, charitable organizations, youth development
organizations, religious organizations, and non-profit private schools do not
have to reapply for the exemption each year once the property tax exemption is
granted, unless by written notice, the Chief Appraiser requests the property
owner to file a new application. However, if their exempt property changes
ownership or if their qualifications for exemption change, they must re-apply.
How do I find out the appraised value of my property?
The chief appraiser sends out a detailed notice of appraised value to the owner
of property annually. The notice of appraised value contains a description of
your property, its value, the exemptions and an estimate of taxes that might be
owed. Property value information is also available on the website Property
Search, or by calling or visiting our offices.
When do you mail Notices of Appraised Value?
The current years notices of appraised value are typically mailed out mid April
of each year. Values on the website are not updated until the notices have been
How is my property valued?
The district first collects detailed descriptions of each taxable property in the
district. It then classifies properties according to a variety of factors such
as size, use and construction type. Using comparable sales, income and/or cost
data, a district appraiser will apply generally accepted appraisal techniques to
derive a value for your property.
How often does the appraisal district value my property?
The appraisal district must repeat the appraisal process for each property in the
county at least once every three years; however, it can reappraise as often as
every year if the market is active in that area.
Why did my value change?
Value changes may occur for several reasons. Often sales information may indicate
the current appraised value is lower/higher than fair market. Also, corrections
to appraisal records may affect value, such as, change in square footage, a pool
not previously accounted for, or a correction of a property characteristic.
Why are you inspecting my property?
In order to make accurate appraisals on every property we have to visit them
periodically to ensure that the data used in making the appraisal is still
correct. For instance, the appraisal district could have received a copy of a
building permit indicating that a room was being added.
What is an improvement?
Improvement means: A building, structure, fixture, or fence erected on or affixed
to land; or A transportable structure that is designed to be occupied for
residential or business purposes, whether or not it is affixed to land, if the
owner of the structure owns the land on which it is located, unless the
structure is unoccupied and held for sale or normally is located at a particular
place only temporarily.
What is fair market value?
Fair market value means the price at which a property would transfer for cash or
its equivalent under prevailing market conditions if: Exposed for sale in the
open market with a reasonable time for the seller to find a purchaser Both the
seller and the purchaser know all of the uses and purposes to which the property
is adapted and for which it is capable of being used and of the enforceable
restrictions on its use. Both the seller and the purchaser seek to maximize
their gains and neither is in a position to take advantage of the exigencies of
What is a Homestead Cap?
In general, the appraised home value for a homeowner who qualifies his homestead
for exemption in the preceding and current year may not increase more than 10
percent per year. The Property Tax Code set a limit on the appraised value of a
residence homestead, stating that its appraised value for a tax year may not
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 the last year in which the property was appraised; and
The market value of all new improvements to the property, excluding a
replacement structure for one that was rendered uninhabitable or unusable by
casualty or by mold or water damage. The appraisal limitation first applies in
the year after the homeowner qualifies for the homestead exemption.