Homestead Exemptions Q. & A.

By
Real Estate Agent with Century 21 Western Realty

Q: Do I, as a homeowner, get a tax break from property taxes?

A: You may apply for homestead exemptions on your principal residence. Homestead exemptions remove part of your home's value from taxation, so they lower taxes. For example, your home is appraised at $50,000, and you qualify for a $15,000 exemption, you will pay taxes on the home as if it was worth only $35,000.

Q: Do all homes qualify for homestead exemptions?

A: No, only a homeowner's principal residence qualifies. To qualify, a home must meet the definition of a residence homestead: The home's owner must be an individual (for example: not a corporation or other business entity) and use the home as his or her principal residence on January 1 of the tax year. If you are age 65 or older, the January 1 ownership and residency are not required for the age 65 homestead exemption.

Q: What is a homestead?

A: A homestead can be a separate structure, condominium or a mobile home located on owned or leased land, as long as the individual living in the home owns it. A homestead can include up to 20 acres, if the land is used as a yard or for another purpose related to the residential use of the homestead.

Q: How do I get a homestead exemption?

A: You must file an Application for Residential Homestead Exemption with the county appraisal district between January 1 and April 30 of the tax year -- up to one year after you pay your taxes. During the year, if you turn 65 or become disabled, you must apply for the 65 or older or disabled exemption no later than one year from the qualification date. Once you receive the exemption, you do not need to reapply unless the chief appraiser sends you a new application. In that case, you must file the new application. If you should move or your qualifications end, you must inform the appraisal district in writing before the next May 1. A list of appraisal district addresses and phone numbers is available online.

Q: What homestead exemptions are available?

A: There are several types of exemptions you may receive.

  • School taxes: All residence homestead owners may receive a $15,000 homestead exemption from their home's value for school taxes.

     

  • County taxes: If a county collects a special tax for farm-to-market roads or flood control, a residence homestead owner may receive a $3,000 exemption for this tax. If the county grants an optional exemption for homeowners age 65 or older or disabled, the owners will receive only the local-option exemption.

     

  • Age 65 or older and disabled exemptions: Over-65 and/or disabled residence homestead owners may qualify for a $10,000 homestead exemption for school taxes, in addition to the $15,000 exemption for all homeowners. If the owner qualifies for both the $10,000 for over-65 homeowners and the $10,000 exemption for disabled homeowners, the owner must choose one or the other for school taxes. The owner cannot receive both exemptions.

     

  • Optional percentage exemptions: Any taxing unit-including a city, county, school, or special district-may offer an exemption of up to 20 percent of a home's value. But, no matter what the percentage is, the amount of an optional exemption cannot be less than $5,000. Each taxing unit decides if it will offer the exemption and at what percentage. This percentage exemption is added to any other home exemption for which an owner qualifies. The taxing unit must decide before July 1 of the tax year to offer this exemption.

     

  • Optional over-65 or disabled exemptions: Any taxing unit may offer an additional exemption of at least $3,000 for taxpayers age 65 or older and/or disabled.
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