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:

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According to Tiffany Hamil, Tarrant County residents have longer than they think to protest

“It has been common practice in Tarrant and all of the surrounding counties for YEARS that the District will send out their notice of appraised value on May 1st,” says property tax consultant Tiffany Hamil. “Tarrant County has been known to even send their notices out past May 1st, but to my knowledge they have never sent their notices out PRIOR to May 1st … until THIS YEAR.

Some Tarrant County residents may have already received their notices, which were mailed at the beginning of this month. If your valuation is lower or the same, you won’t get a notice at all, Hamil says. Still, you should check your Tarrant County appraisal online with the Tarrant Appraisal District.

“Your notice is going to say that your protest deadline is April 30th, but the law allows a property owner to protest up until May 31st,” Hamil notes.

According to her, the Property Tax Code says: 

Notwithstanding Subsection (a)(1), an owner of property described by that subsection who files a notice of protest after the deadline prescribed by that subsection but before the appraisal review board approves the appraisal records is entitled to a hearing and determination of the protest if the property owner files the
notice before June 1.

Tarrant County property owners who wish to protest their appraisal values should do so before the April 30 deadline, Hamil says. However, if you miss the deadline, you still have options. 

Find out more about Tiffany Hamil at DFW Tax Advisor’s website.