It’s that time of year again – April 15th is looming, and W2s and 1099s are being shuffled as people attempt to minimize their tax liability. As April 16th comes, there’s a sigh of relief, though there’s another deadline looming for people who bought homes in the last 16 months:

You have until April 30th to file for a homestead exemption on your property in Travis County.

What’s a homestead exemption? The Texas Tax Code allows owners to apply for a discount on their property taxes. Since Texas doesn’t have state income tax, property taxes are at a larger rate than in other states. Relief on property tax is often welcomed – both County and School District.

This is how it breaks down in Travis County: A homestead is eligible for a 20% discount (of its appraised value) on County property tax, and a maximum of $15,000 on school taxes. There are bigger exemptions for disabled residents and those over 65.

Who qualifies for a homestead exemption? Any individual who claims a home as their primary or principal residence on January 1st of the year in question.

How do I make sure I get my exemption? You only need to apply for an exemption once, or if the tax office invites you to do it again. There is no cost to do this, though you may receive mail “offers” of organizations that will do it for you at a cost.

You can check your Travis County property tax records online. If you have applied for the Homestead Exemption, you should get a small “HS” code in the Exemptions box shown in the record, which is missing from the screenshot below.

Homestead Exemption

The form to apply for a homestead exemption is available from the TravisCad.org site, or from the TravisCountyTax.org site.

The phrase “homestead” has a separate meaning in the Texas Property Code – a residence which is protected from foreclosure to pay certain types of creditors. For most of us, the two homesteads are the same.

Don’t forget to check that your principal residence is designated as a homestead if you want to lower your property tax liability this year!

Garreth Wilcock is a Real estate agent in Austin, TX. You can search homes for sale in Austin at his website or call him on 512 694 8873 if you have questions.

 


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