By Lydia Blair
A reader writes: “I bought a home in 2018 and my taxes are escrowed by my mortgage company. How do I get a homestead exemption to get a discount on my taxes? Do I need to repeat the process every year? How much does it save me?”
You most definitely want to know how to file for a homestead exemption for your 2019 property taxes. To get a homestead exemption, you must own and live in the property as your principal residence as of Jan. 1 of that tax year. So, if you purchased in 2018, you may apply for that exemption after Jan. 1, 2019.
A homestead exemption removes part of your home’s value from taxation, so it lowers your taxes. I don’t know the details about your home to tell you how much a homestead exemption can save on your property taxes, but it is generally about 20 percent. Given the property tax rates in Texas, it is worth the few minutes it takes.
To qualify, your home must also be owned by you as an individual (or individuals). A corporation or other business entity doesn’t qualify for this exemption. Do not pay someone else to do this for you. It is free and you can do it online in a few minutes.
Here is a step-by-step guide for how to apply for a homestead exemption in the DFW area:
First you need to change the address on your driver’s license to your new home address. You may do that online as well for a fee. You’re going to need to submit a copy of your driver’s license or Texas ID card that shows the same address as the homestead property. Take a photo of it or scan it to upload with your online homestead application.
Go to the appraisal district web site for your county appraisal district. Property tax sites for the DFW area include:
Find your property on the appraisal district site and open that page to show your account. There should be a choice for forms or exemptions. Just find the link and click on it.
Follow the directions for filing your exemption and fill out the online form. You’ll need to upload that copy of your driver’s license. Without it, the application will be denied. But it is quick and easy.
You will only need to do this one time for the property you are currently occupying. Once you receive the exemption, you don’t need to apply again unless for some odd reason the tax assessor asks you to repeat the application.
The deadline to apply is April 30. But don’t procrastinate — do it now.
The homestead exemption is only good for a property that you own and occupy as your principal residence. If you own more than one property, the tax folks will only allow you the one exemption.
Look for your property tax notice in May. Your property taxes are determined by (1) how much the appraisal district says it is worth, and (2) the tax rate that your local government entities set. Those entities include the county, city and school district.
If the assessed value is more than what you paid, you may want to protest the value. Instructions for protesting are included with your tax notice.
The opinions expressed are of the individual author for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Contact an attorney to obtain advice for any particular issue or problem.
Lydia Blair (formerly Lydia Player) was a successful Realtor for 10 years before jumping to the title side of the business in 2015. Prior to selling real estate, she bought, remodeled and sold homes (before house flipping was an expression). She’s been through the real estate closing process countless times as either a buyer, a seller, a Realtor, and an Escrow Officer. As an Escrow Officer for Carlisle Title, she likes solving problems and cutting through red tape. The most fun part of her job is handing people keys or a check.