What You Need to Know About Your Texas Property Tax Protest

Property Taxes 101

Texas has the seventh-highest effective property tax rates at 1.69 percent. The average property tax paid by Texans currently stands at $3,743. As a property owner in Texas, it’s always a moment of reckoning whenever the authorities compute your annual property taxes. However, most property owners have no idea what they need to know about their Texas property tax protest or the role of trusted property consultants when preparing appraisal appeals.

Until recently, Texans with property tax disputes didn’t know how to seek a legal reprieve. The few property owners who knew that property tax protests existed were also fearful of the dynamics involved. However, most people are now eager to learn the nitty-gritty around property tax protest and its cost-saving benefits.

Despite property owners in Texas suffering at the hands of tax authorities, few are ever willing to seek reprieve against these high appraisals. The lack of information among Texas property owners often derails their quest to reduce the annual tax levied. But what are some of the main elements of the Texas property tax protest every property owner should know? Read on to find answers.

What You Need to Know About Your Texas Property Tax Protest

The perception among property owners in Texas around the issue of appraisals and property tax protest has been historically skewed. When you protest property taxes, it’s more about the market value and not necessarily tax rates. It’s prudent to consider property tax protests when your appraisals don’t match those of houses around you. It’s within your right to seek a fair evaluation of the property if the provided estimates seem higher than what you had anticipated.

The Law in Texas provides sufficient legal remedies under the Tax code for residents to seek assessment in cases where the tax levied is unfair. As such, you need to prepare for tax protests each time the authorities undertake appraisals. Are you still wondering what you need to know about your Texas property tax protest? Here’s more. 

Is There a Chance That the Taxes Will Rise?

A common misconception with property owners is that property taxes may rise after review. This concern could be based on historical myths that often hinder property owners from pursuing legal redress. In reality, only one property tax gets raised per every 10,000 appraisals reviewed by the board, representing about 1 percent of the total appraisals reviewed. However, property owners should always be cautious when they opt to make the application independently.

In fact, the risk of your property taxes being raised when you file a protest on your own is relatively high compared to when you work with professionals who understand what the board will review when looking into appraisal appeals. Your best bet is to work with professionals who have in-depth knowledge about what you need to know about your Texas property tax and can navigate the appeal process with ease.

Does a Lowered Appraisal Lower Your Home’s Market Value?

One of the recurrent fears homeowners have about applying for property tax protest is the repercussion of a lower appraisal. The assumption is always that once your home is valued downward during an appellant appraisal, it automatically loses its market value. The reality, however, is that the central appraisal district only considers the taxable value of your home, vis-à-vis other property within the same market. You don’t need to worry about filing an appraisal appeal. In most cases, your home is worth more than what the appraisal states.

Are There Exemptions to Property Tax?

When preparing for a property tax protest, it’s essential to understand the legal leverages you have at your disposal. Many property owners don’t realize that they have exemptions that can also help them reduce their tax burden. If you are a homeowner, here are some of the exemptions that favor you.

· Homestead Exemptions

Homestead exemptions are among the critical elements of what you need to know about your Texas property tax protest. If your primary home has a homestead exemption on file, you are already eligible for discounts on your home property tax. 

Most homeowners continue to pay  high rates on their primary homes without realizing how much they should be saving when it comes to exemptions. You only need to file for your primary home to fall under the category of homestead exemptions.

One of the easiest ways to assess your homestead status would be to visit your county’s appraisal website. There, you can check your home’s status and make the necessary changes if the house isn’t already listed.

Did you know that your appraisal can never increase beyond 10 percent per year once your homestead is exempt? The exemption applies for homeowners who have stayed in the home since January 1 of the respective year. In cases where you may not have applied for the exemption, the grace period applies up to April 30 of the same year. The State of Texas, however, often provides leeway for late exemptions.

Homestead exemptions remove a specific part of your home’s actual value from taxation. You only end up paying school taxes minus the total value of homestead exemptions you are entitled to after valuation.

Related: How to Lower Property Taxes in Texas

What Property Qualifies for Homestead Exemption?

Property owners who opt to file for property tax protests on their own rarely benefit from homestead exemptions. You might need to work closely with tax experts who guide you on the little-known benefits of filing for homestead exemptions.

According to the statutes of taxes, a homestead refers to a house or any other residential structure that a property owner owns. The definition also covers up to 20 acres within which the property sits. However, the catch is that the property must be used strictly for residential purposes. In the case of manufactured homes, they might need to meet the statement of ownership and location criteria.

Are you Eligible for Homestead Exemption?

Not everyone has automatic homestead exemptions, and you must either own your homestead fully or partially for you to qualify for these exemptions. Leased property may not apply as a homestead for tax exemptions.

Second, the house must be your principal residence. Some Texans assume that property owned but rented out to tenants may still qualify for exemptions. The law underscores that the homestead exemption only applies when the house is your primary residence.

The third consideration is that you must possess a driver’s license or a Texas-issued Personal Identification Certificate. This requirement attempts to ascertain that those seeking exemptions are indeed residents of Texas.

Are There Other Exemptions When Applying for a Property Tax Protest?

What you need to know about your Texas property tax protest also includes other exemptions that may apply.  If you have an agent by your side, they can guide you on proceeding with the application if you fall within these categories.

·  Over 65-year Exemption

Homeowners above the age of 65 are eligible for tax reductions each year. If your appraisal has come in and you can’t seem to see these exemptions, then you should file a protest. Texas also allows surviving spouses above the age of 55 years to enjoy over 65-exemptions.

·  Disability Exemption

The disability exemption covers homeowners who may have become incapacitated due to disability at whatever stage of the homeownership journey. However, this only protects the disabled homeowners and not their children. If you are disabled and above 65, you can only qualify for one exemption.

·  Disabled Veteran Exemption

The assumption is that the State keeps a record of veterans. However, in cases where you realize that your annual chargeable property tax rates are incredibly high despite being a veteran, you can opt to protest. The exemption covers spouses and survivors of service members killed on active duty and veterans who have suffered life-long injuries in the line of duty. Where the veteran exemption applies, the ratio is 100 percent exemption if the veteran is 100 percent disabled. The amount of exemption depends on the assumed extent of disability.

·  Calamity Exemption

Texas provides exemptions in cases where your homestead suffers extended destruction due to specific acts of God. For instance, during the recent winter storm that hit Texas, many homes suffered extensive destruction. These homeowners would receive tax exemptions.

It would be best if you were up to date on such matters. This will ensure that you make timely applications for exemptions in case calamity strikes. All these exemptions can help you reduce the quoted appraisals for your property.

Related: Property Tax Protest Deadline in Texas

When Should I File for Property Tax Exemption?

Deadlines are a critical element when filing for property tax protests, as well as exemptions. It would be best to prepare early to ensure that time constraints don’t affect your eligibility. One of the ways to ensure that you are ready to file a protest is to get all timelines for filing for exemptions right.

According to the new law that went into effect on January 1, 2022, you can file for a residential homestead exemption in the year you bought the property. Otherwise, April 30 is the deadline for the application.

If you are applying for a 65-year exemption, you are eligible on the day you turn 65, and the exemption doesn’t apply before your official documented age reaches that number. Most times, these applications for exemptions fail because applicants fail to understand the existing criteria for eligibility.

Different scenarios may determine the interpretation made for eligibility in the case of dependents. If in doubt, talk to a tax specialist as they better understand the legal dynamics of tax exemptions.

Work with an Agent to Increase Your Chances of Winning That Appeal

Exemptions are an essential consideration when filing a tax protest. You may be eligible for one or two exemptions, yet you have been paying hefty taxes each year. It takes a seasoned agent to assess your situation and recommend tax exemptions for you.

At Home Tax Shield, we understand the pain of paying extremely high rates for your annual property tax. We also have adequate knowledge to help you navigate the complexities of property tax protests. Sign up for our annual property tax assessment and say bye-bye to hefty taxes. 

Feb 22nd 2022

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