Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: Texas Homestead Exemption - New Law - Must Prove Primary Residence

Texas Homestead Exemption - New Law - Must Prove Primary Residence

Texas Property Tax Homestead Exemptions just got a little more in-depth.  It used to be "easy" to file your Homestead Exemption in the state of Texas. Each county has their form online and it usually takes under 2 minutes to fill it out. Some counties required it to be notarized while others don't. 

A Property Tax Homestead Exemption means you live in the property as your Primary Residence, more than 50% of the time, and this allows you to get a small reduction in your property tax value. Each district is different, so I can't tell you what your exact discount will be. An example is take a property with a tax value of $300,000. If you don't claim a homestead exemption, you will be charged the tax rate for each entity at the full $300k value: county, city, school, hospital, etc...

If you file a Homestead Exemption for your Property Tax value of that same homestead exemption property tax value$300k house, maybe the school tax is based off of a $250k value, and the city tax is based off of $275k, etc... not all entities give a discount, but many do and it's different in each district and county across the state.  Because of this discounted tax base, you save money, so it's to every home owner's advantage to file their Homestead Exemption.

As we all know, there are always people trying to skirt the laws. Since it is so easy to say a property is a homestead, many people are receiving a discount when they shouldn't... people decided the law had to change. 

The new law requires home owners to prove they live in their house.  They must send in a copy of their driver's license (or state ID card) to show the address is the same. In the state of Texas, when you move, you only have 30 days to update your residence on legal items like a driver's license and insurance for your vehicle. You must also supply your vehicle's registration receipt.  If you don't own a vehicle, you must fill out an affidavit stating you don't own a vehicle, and then you must supply a current utility bill showing your name and address.

This new law does NOT effect people who already have a Homestead Exemption. It only effects people applying for the Homestead Exemption starting this next year, 2012. You must own the property Jan 1 of the year you file for the Homestead Exemption.  That means, if you bought a house January 2, you cannot file the Homestead for an entire year. If you bought the house in December, you have the same deadlines as people who bought before you previously in the year.

Once January 1 arrives, you then have until April 30 of that year to file your Homestead Exemption if you want it to be effective for that year. If you miss the deadline, you can file extra paperwork asking and pleading for them to make an exception, otherwise you just wait until the next year to obtain your discount. Some counties will go back five years if you have inadvertently forgotten to file your exemption for several years.

Very important: Once you file your Homestead Exemption for Property Tax Value in the state of Texas, you never have to file it again on that property. You do not have to file each year!!  It's a one-time thing, until you buy a new primary residence!

One of the most important reasons why you want to file a Homestead Exemption is because the house then becomes protected and no one but your lender, for non payment of your mortgage, can take your house (HOA's, depending on your bylaws, are an exception). If you're behind on credit cards, they can't take your house. If you're in a lawsuit, they can't take your house. Your house is protected with this huge umbrella, so it's worth the tiny hoops you now have to jump through.

Once you've spent the holidays in your new house, don't forget to file your Homestead Exemption as soon as you can!

**Are You Packed Yet?**

donna harris Realtor Austin TX blog

Donna Harris, REALTOR®
RE/MAX Austin Skyline

Austin TX Real Estate

and the surrounding areas of Lakeway, Bee Cave, West Lake Hills, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Spicewood, Circle-C, Steiner Ranch, and everywhere in between... Hill Country Austin TX Real Estate and beyond. Whether you're buying or selling an Austin home, I'll be with you every step of the way. 

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Copyright© 2011 By Donna Harris, All Rights Reserved. You may re-blog with links back to this post.
Texas Homestead Exemption - New Law - Must Prove Primary Residence * was first published on


Comment balloon 7 commentsDonna Harris • September 27 2011 11:50AM


Hi Donna, I did know about this new requirement for proving your primary residency for Homestead Exemptions. Thanks for pointing this one out. I believe the county can take your home for failing to pay your taxes too. But, that Homestead is otherwise a great protection for Texas Home owners.

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216, almost 9 years ago

Counties need all of the revenue they can get now.  Its not surprising they are getting stricter.

Posted by Rodney Mason, VP of Mortgage Lending - AL, FL, GA, SC, & TN (Guaranteed Rate NMLS# 2611) almost 9 years ago

Jerry, You are corrent, you must pay your taxes, but that is also related to the actual house. My point was that no one can come take it from you for some outside reason.

Rodney, If people were just honest, the government wouldn't need to step in like this.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 9 years ago

Thank you Donna for sharing the information about the new Homestead Exemption Laws.  I have reblog this article.

Posted by Maggie McFarland, Pearland Realtor, Homes for Sale in Pearland Texas (RE/MAX Pearland - Maggie McFarland) almost 9 years ago

Probably could use something like this in Florida also, as our homestead is pretty easy to obtain.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) almost 9 years ago

Donna, this surely is a good practice - in MA, I think we have a default Homestead protection...(that's what my attorney told me - it automatically gets filed at closing.)

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) almost 9 years ago

I like the fact that you must prove that you are a home owner living in the home to get the discount.

Posted by Tim Lorenz, 949 874-2247 (TIM LORENZ - Elite Home Sales Team) almost 9 years ago