How to Lower Your Property Taxes?
If you’re wondering how to lower your property taxes in Texas, you’re not alone. Property owners from all over the lone star state are receiving higher bills every year and struggling to pay.
In many cases, there are steps you can take to reduce your bill. The two main ways to lower your property taxes are filing for exemptions and disputing your property’s appraised value.
Read on to find out more about each of these options.
File for Exemptions
The easiest exemption to get is a homestead exemption. Your primary residence qualifies for this exemption, though it cannot be applied to commercial property or additional homes in the same state.
This exemption reduces the taxable value of your home, which in turn lowers your taxes. It gives you a $25,000 reduction in your home’s value for the purpose of school taxes.
This means that if your home is valued at $125,000, you only pay school taxes on $100,000. To receive this exemption, you need to file an “Application for Residential Homestead Exemption” with your appraisal district.
You only need to apply one time. Once approved, you will continue to receive the exemption as long as you remain in that residence. Another common exemption is for those ages 65 or older and those with disabilities.
This qualifies the individual for an additional $10,000 decrease in their home’s taxable value for school property taxes. If you qualify as both 65 or older and disabled, you can only claim one as an exemption.
There are also several exemptions available to disabled veterans or surviving spouses and children who still live in the home. The amount of these exemptions and which ones an individual qualifies for is based on the level of disability support the veteran receives.
Individuals whose spouse was killed while serving in the armed forces receive total property tax exemption until they remarry or leave the home.
Texas law also allows for a few other exemptions. These include exemptions for charitable organizations, some businesses, and homes with solar and wind-powered energy devices. Contact your local taxing office for more info.
You need to file for an exemption between January and April to receive the discount on your upcoming property tax bill. In some cases, you can apply retroactively and receive a refund.
For example, the Texas Comptroller website states that you may apply for a homestead exemption up to twelve months after the due-date of your taxes.
Dispute Your Home’s Appraisal Value
Every year between January and April, your home is appraised by your appraisal district, which is governed by a local board of directors. They estimate your property’s fair market value as of January 1st.
You then pay a percentage of this value in your upcoming property taxes. Disputing your home’s appraised value is your right as a taxpayer. Sometimes, the appraiser will overvalue your home.
You will receive a notice of an increase in your home’s value in April or May. If you review this notice and think your home has been appraised at more than it is worth, you can dispute it with the appraisal review board (ARB).
You need to file your dispute to the ARB by May 31 or within 30 days of receiving the appraisal notice—whichever date is later.
When the ARB receives your protest, they will arrange a formal hearing for you to make your case, which will take place in May, June, or July.
If you want to successfully dispute your home’s appraised value, you need to do your research. The ARB will expect you to present an appeal package that shows homes of a similar size and age with comparable amenities that are valued less than yours.
This is how you prove your home was overvalued. Amenities include everything inside and out. If making comparisons to other homes that are value the same but are in better condition than yours, point out everything the others have that you don’t.
This can include siding, a finished basement, appliances, new countertops, pools or hot tubs, etc. Another pro-tip is to ask your neighbors. They’re likely to have comparable homes, and you can compare your appraised values.
This information is also available on your appraisal district’s website. If a neighbor has the same floorplan on a home with similar age and amenities, but their appraised value is lower than yours, this will help you appeal.
Don’t forget that you should only use properties in the same tax classification when you appeal. You probably won’t be successful if you compare your home to a commercial building, for example.
If you need more information on your home’s tax classification as well as that of others, contact your county assessor’s office. If you’re not sure how to start, you can hire an independent appraiser to help you compile your case.
This will cost you some money up front, but if you successfully appeal the value, it can save you money in the long run. You can also file a dispute if you do not receive an exemption for which you applied.
The process is similar—you need to file a dispute with the ARB and present your case as to why you should have qualified for the exemption.
Remember that you have a limited window of time to make an appeal. If you miss the chance to make an appeal, you’ll have to pay the ensuing taxes and wait until the following year.
Know What Increases Your Property Value
Home improvements can show up on your appraisal each year. Anytime you add on to your home, build a deck, add a pool, etc., these things increase your property value, and you’ll see them reflected in the appraisal.
Value can show up in the small things, too—new siding, windows, and even landscaping affect your property’s value. If you are considering home improvements, you’ll save money by doing it just after the appraisal period instead of before.
Also, when you’re budgeting for these projects, be sure to consider the tax cost you’ll pay long-term. Overall, saving on property taxes is a pro-active effort.
When your next appraisal comes, be sure to file for the appropriate exemptions and dispute if necessary.