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 $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!
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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 donnahomesblog.com.