If you are 65 or older, you may be eligible for the Seniors’ Texas property tax homestead exemption. This exemption can provide significant savings on your property taxes each year. This blog post will discuss how to qualify for the seniors’ texas property tax homestead exemption and what benefits it offers. We will also provide information on qualifying for the over-65 exemption at 55 years of age!
How Property Taxes Work in Texas
In Texas, your local appraisal district uses the tax code to provide property tax breaks in the form of exemptions. The county applies this exemption to different types of taxes, including for property owners, school district taxes, and special taxes.
With no state property tax, Texas residents fund their local schools and community services through taxes in the district they live in.
The general Texas homestead exemption is possible for most homeowners in Texas who apply. Exemptions provided for many different types of taxes include:
- School taxes: $25,000 homestead exemption from your home’s value for school taxes.
- County taxes: County special tax $3,000 exemption
- Optional percentage exemptions: Some cities, counties, schools, or special districts may offer an additional $5,000 exemption or up to 20 percent of a home’s value. They may also provide an additional exemption amount of at least $3,000 for taxpayers age 65 or older and/or disabled.
How Much Can I Save With the General Homestead Exemption?
Depending on the district in Texas, 25-45% of your home value may be exempt from taxes.
Exactly how much you pay depends on the tax rates in your district. You can also protest your appraisal with the chief appraiser. If the chief appraiser determines your house is worth less than originally appraised, the basis for your property taxes is lower.
To be eligible for a homestead exemption in Texas, there are specific requirements that must be fulfilled.
- The home must be your principal residence.
- You must be the owner. (a business entity does not own your home)
- You must use the home as your principal residence on Jan 1 of the tax year.
- You must not claim an exemption on another residence homestead.
If you are age 65 or older or disabled, or both, you can also receive an additional exemption of $10,000 per year.
What Kind of Home Qualifies?
Homeowners can reap the benefits of owning a qualifying homestead regardless if it is an apartment, single-family home, or manufactured dwelling. Moreover, those who own up to 20 acres of land accompanying their residence may be eligible to add that to their exemptions, too!
Homes that qualify include:
- Stick-built home
- Manufactured home located on owned or leased land
Texas Property Tax for Seniors
Suppose you’re 65 or older and occupy your home as your primary residence. In that case, you qualify for the “over 65” Homestead Exemption, which includes a $10,000 homestead exemption for the school taxes on your home’s value, in addition to the $15,000 exemption for all homeowners.
Upon receiving the over 65 homestead exemption, you become eligible for a tax cap on your residence school taxes and any other local area (county, city, special district) property taxes that have adopted this optional ceiling.
If you’re 65 or older, you are eligible for the over-65 tax exemption—your taxes cannot exceed that rate as long as your own and inhabit the same home. The ceiling is based on the tax amount paid in either of two years: this current year when an entity adopted a local option ceiling OR from last year when you initially qualified for exemption.
Rest assured, knowing that no matter what, your taxation will never be higher than your personal threshold set by your ceiling!
If you’re looking to keep your tax ceiling low and pay less, you will not want to make major unnecessary home improvements. Additionally, if you decide to relocate to another residence, remember that your tax ceiling may fluctuate accordingly.
How Do I Apply for a Homestead Exemption?
If you are 65 this year, you may file for the over-65 exemption up to one year from the date you turned 65.
(If you are disabled, you can apply for disabled homeowner exemptions. Disabled homeowners receive the same exemptions as over 65 homeowners. However, you may not apply for both exemptions.)
To apply for a general homestead exemption plus your senior benefits, submit an Application for Residential Homestead Exemption (PDF) and supporting documentation with the appraisal district where the property is located. The application must include a copy of your driver’s license or state identification card and is generally before May 1 of that tax year.
Qualifying for A Senior Homestead Exemption at 55
Texas offers senior homeowners 55 or older the senior citizen exemption when their spouse owner dies. When a homeowner receiving the over 65 exemption and school tax ceiling dies, the exemption and ceiling transfer to the surviving spouse if the survivor is 55 or older and has ownership in the home.
The survivor must apply to the appraisal district for the transfer. The exemptions and ceiling remain in effect for as long as the spouse lives in the home.
If you inherit the home through a transfer on death deed, a will, or intestate (when there is no will), you’ll go through a legal process to claim your exemption.
You need to supply extra information to ensure your name is added to the property’s deed in the county. This information includes:
- Affidavit establishing ownership of an interest in the property
- Prior property owner’s death certificate
- Property’s most recent utility bill
- Citation of any court record relating to your ownership of the property, if available
If you inherited a property with siblings or other relatives, all of them must sign an affidavit for your application to be approved. To complete the necessary paperwork, head to the county clerk’s office where the property is located and fill out all required documents.
Paying Tax in Installments as a Senior
If you have an over 65 or disabled exemption or are the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran, you may request to pay your property taxes in 4 equal payments without penalty and interest. (1)
To avoid penalties, you must pay 25% of your total property tax and submit a written request to Special Tax Services Dept. at P.O. Box 3746 Houston, TX 77253-3746 for installment payments before January 31st!
Make your first payment by the end of February to avoid a 6% penalty and 1% interest. Subsequent payments must be made in full on March 31st, May 31st, and July 31st, respectively.
Property Tax Deferral for Seniors
Homeowners aged 65 or older, as well as those with disabilities, have the ability to terminate a judgment or tax sale for delinquent taxes and also defer payment on outstanding property taxes for their homestead while they continue living there. As long as you own and reside in your home, this type of relief is available to you.
To postpone your tax payments, file a property tax deferment affidavit with your appraisal district. The deferral applies to delinquent property taxes for all the taxing units that tax your home.
You should be aware that deferred taxes only lets you postpone payment. Your district does not cancel your taxes. You will also owe interest at the rate of at least 5% annually.
When you no longer own or occupy your residence, all taxes, pre-deferral penalties, and interest must be paid in full – plus an additional 5% of the original amount – within 180 days.
If taxes remain unpaid, regular penalties and interest will accumulate; the taxing units may then take legal action to reclaim delinquent taxes through a tax auction.
Our Experienced Real Estate Foreclosure Legal Team Can Help
If you need help handling the district taxes where you live as a senior citizen, talk with us at Jarrett Law! We can help with any legal real estate questions you may have!
To halt a tax foreclosure process on your home, let our expert defense team prevent Harris county from selling your property in a tax sale!
At Jarrett Law, our focus on tax foreclosure law brings answers to any legal issues related to your home or taxes. Our experience in texas homestead law means we keep up with the latest changes and can help you understand how they may affect you.
In addition, we are here for you if your struggles involve:
- Appealing your tax value in a protest
- Foreclosures and short sales
- Home inspection disputes
- Civil suits against sellers or buyers who defrauded you
- Mortgage contract negotiations
- and more!
Give us a call today to discuss your case. Find out how we can help you understand the laws in your area and help you come out on top!