Friday, February 17, 2006

Texas Homestead Exemption

The Texas Homestead Exemption, in addition to providing legal protection regarding your home, can also save you money on your property tax bill. A homestead exemption reduces taxes by lowering a home's taxable value. All school districts offer a $5000 homestead exemption, and some taxing units offer a percentage exemption of up to 20% of a home's assessed value. Homeowners can lower their property taxes by applying for these exemptions for which they are eligible. You must own your own home and occupy it as your principal residence on January 1. You can have only one principal residence and one homestead exemption.

A special form is needed to apply for homestead exemptions. The form must be completed and returned to the appropriate appraisal office not before January 1 but no later than April 30. You can download the application from, fill out the form, and send it in to your appraisal district.

Don't fall for misleading solicitations to file your homestead exemption. There is no fee to file a property-tax homestead exemption. Shortly after the purchase of a home in Texas, you might receive letters on official-looking stationery offering to file your homestead exemption for you for a fee. Even some people who have lived in Texas their entire lives confuse these letters as a form from a state agency requiring a mandatory fee.

The actual process is both free and easy so take a few minutes to save yourself hundreds of dollars on your tax bill.

Christina Whipple

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