Property Tax Exemptions
Property tax in Texas is a locally assessed and locally administered tax. There is no state property tax. Property tax brings in the most money of all taxes available to local government to pay for schools, roads, police and firemen, emergency response services, libraries, parks and other services provided by local government.
Texas offers a variety of partial or total (absolute) exemptions from appraised property values used to determine local property taxes. A partial exemption removes a percentage or a fixed dollar amount of a property’s value from taxation. A total (absolute) exemption excludes the entire property from taxation. Taxing units are mandated by the state to offer certain (mandatory) exemptions and have the option to decide locally on whether or not to offer others (local option).
Exemptions from property tax require applications in most circumstances. Applications for property tax exemptions are filed with appraisal districts. The general deadline for filing an exemption application is before May 1. Appraisal district chief appraisers are responsible for determining whether or not property qualifies for an exemption.
Tax Code exemption requirements are extensive. Property owners should read applicable statutes carefully. The Comptroller’s publication Property Tax Exemptions offers a short summary of the exemption provisions.
Tax Code Section 11.13(b) requires school districts to offer a $25,000 exemption on residence homesteads and Tax Code Section 11.13(n) allows any taxing unit the option to decide locally to offer a separate residence homestead exemption of up to 20 percent of a property’s appraised value. The local option exemption cannot be less than $5,000. Tax Code Section 11.13(a) requires counties that collect farm-to-market or flood control taxes to offer a $3,000 residence homestead exemption.
There are no specific qualifications for the general homestead exemption other than the owner has an ownership interest in the property and uses the property as the owner’s principal residence. An applicant is required to state that he or she does not claim an exemption on another residence homestead in or outside of Texas.
For persons age 65 or older or disabled, Tax Code Section 11.13(c) requires school districts to offer an additional $10,000 residence homestead exemption and Tax Code Section 11.13(d) allows any taxing unit the option to decide locally to offer a separate residence homestead exemption. This local option exemption cannot be less than $3,000.
To qualify for the age 65 or older local option exemption, the owner must be age 65 or older and live in the house. If the age 65 or older homeowner dies, the surviving spouse may continue to receive the local option exemption if the surviving spouse is age 55 or older at the time of death and lives in and owns the home and applies for the exemption.
A disabled person must meet the definition of disabled for the purpose of receiving disability insurance benefits under the Federal Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Act.
A person who qualifies as both age 65 or older and disabled does not qualify for both, but must choose which exemption to claim.
Tax Code Section 11.22 provides partial exemptions for any property owned by disabled veterans and surviving spouses and children of deceased disabled veterans and Tax Code Section 11.132 provides a partial exemption for residence homesteads donated to disabled veterans by charitable organizations that also extends to surviving spouses who have not remarried. The amount of exemption is determined according to percentage of service-connected disability. More information on the amount of the exemption can be found in the FAQ- Disabled Veterans Exemption.
Tax Code Section 11.131 entitles a disabled veteran who receives 100 percent disability compensation due to a service-connected disability and a rating of 100 percent disabled or of individual unemployability to a total property tax exemption on the veteran’s residence homestead.
This exemption extends to a surviving spouse who was married to a disabled veteran who qualified or would have qualified for this exemption if it has been in effect at the time of the veteran’s death provided:
- the surviving spouse has not remarried;
- the property was the residence homestead of the surviving spouse when the veteran died and;
- the property remains the residence homestead of the surviving spouse.
Tax Code Section 11.133 entitles a surviving spouse of a member of the U.S. armed services killed in action to a total property tax exemption on his or her residence homestead if the surviving spouse has not remarried since the death of the armed services member.
Texas law allows for a number of exemptions for charitable organizations and businesses. Please refer to the Comptroller’s publication Texas Property Tax Exemptions for more information about these exemptions. Most of these exemptions have specific application forms that can be found through the exemption forms link in the box above.