By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

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:


property taxAlthough we’ve warned you a couple of times, just in case you missed it — today is kind of a big deal if you own a home. Today is the deadline (unless you’re in Denton County) to protest your property taxes for this year.

If this has caught you unawares, don’t fret — one local company has come up with, a way to determine if you need to protest, compile your evidence if you do, and then download a complete report that you can file electronically with your county’s central appraisal district — in less than an hour in most cases (in fact, it took me about 10 minutes). (more…)

Casa-Bella-Ray-Nagins-TH-533x400That’s the Casa Bella condo of former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin in Frisco — north of Lebanon Parkway, built by D.R. Horton, which he once referred to as a “modest second hurricane home”. He and his wife bought the home May 31, 2007 when it was valued at $181,968, saying they had family in the area. Problem was, in 2009, Nagin didn’t pay his homeowners dues/HOA fees of $1507.14. In March, 2009, the Casa Bella Owners Association filed suit again Nagin for past due moola. He said he would make it right, and he did. Looks like the house is now worth about $168,000, at least according to the Collin County Appraisal District, and he has paid up those HOAs.

But… now Nagin faces problems far worse than unpaid HOA dues: Nagin has been indicted by a grand jury on 21 federal corruption charges claiming he awarded lucrative city contracts to contractors in exchange for more than $200,000 in kickbacks and first-class trips to Hawaii, Jamaica and Las Vegas.

(Wonder where he went in Hawaii? I hope Kukio.)

The 56 year old served two four-year terms as mayor, from 2002 to 2010. If convicted,  he faces more than 15 years in prison. Nagin now has the dubious honor of being the first mayor in the city’s 295-year history to be indicted under federal corruption charges.

Here is what he is accused of doing — accused, y’all remember, jury’s still out:

– Taking $70,000 in bribes from a consultant who was awarded a couple dozen public works contracts with the city. Now that was totally worth it NOT…

– Got an all expense paid trip to Hawaii for himself and his family then went to Jamaica first-class courtesy of a contractor. Again, where did he go before I can surmise if this was worth it?

– Got a free private jet trip to both Chicago and Las Vegas from another contractor — a private jet is hard to turn down. Yeah, I might could be bribed for use of a private jet but I’d take the private jet to Hawaii.

– Oh Lord — this is bad — used city deals and his influence to enrich his New Orleans-based family granite supply company — what, did they put granite counters in every public bathroom?

Nagin was The Cable Guy. He came to office in 2002 promising sweeping changes and corruption fighting. Then Hurricane Katrina popped, or rather blew him into the national spotlight in 2005, when he criticized federal agencies and then President Bush for not doing enough to help New Orleans, which was pretty much devastated. But then the criticism turned back onto him, especially when it was revealed he came here to Dallas to wait out the storm. Still, headscratcher here, strong support from black voters helped Nagin win re-election in 2006.