As I approach the magical age of 65, I'm beginning to take interest in things like Medicare and Social Security and the Over 65 Homestead Exemption available to Texas homeowners. Here's what I've discovered about the latter.
You might qualify for the 65 and older exemption (Tax Code §11.13(c), (d)) in the year you turn 65 if you own your home, live in it, and pay property taxes. If you do qualify, a "ceiling" is set that limits the school taxes portion to the amount you paid in the year that you qualify. This can be a significant tax savings and since you'll be over 65 from that point forward, the savings will add up year after year. You only have to apply once unless you move or sell. Some districts might have additional local county and junior colleges that also participate with a tax ceiling.
This is great news for me. Us December babies usually get shortchanged throughout life. This is one instance where it doesn't matter what month you were born. Because taxes are paid in arrears, I'll be covered with the exemption for the whole year when I turn 65 as if I had qualifed on January first of the tax year.
Keep in mind, though, that just like property taxes, the tax ceiling amounts can increase if you make improvements to your home.
Texas law requires that school districts offer an additional $10,000 exemption, above and beyond the homestead exemption (see below) to those over 65. The separate and optional exemption can be applied by any taxing unit, such as a city or county school district, in an amount of at least $3,000.
To qualify for a general residential homestead exemption (Tax Code §11.13), you must own and live in your home on January 1st of the year you file for this exemption. If you just bought a home yesterday, you can't file until next year.
To file for the homstead exemption, go to your county's Central Appraisal District website and look for a link to the application. For the Over 65 Exemption, if the appraisal district has your date of birth, you'll pay the normal pre-65 assessed amount in the year you turn 65 and they'll issue a refund for the difference within 3-4 months after the spring update. If you're not sure if your appraisal district has your date of birth, call them.
Here's how it works: the amount of the exemptions that are granted by each taxing entity is subtracted from the market value of your residence and the taxes are calculated on that "lower value."
If you're in Dallas County and have got questions about exemptions, property taxes, how to protest your property taxes, or any other questions, call the helpful customer service reps at 214-631-0910. To check for other exemptions that might apply to you, or to read an explanation of exemptions in the Tax Code, visit www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/proptax.
Happy December birthday to me!