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Filing Your Homestead Exemption

 
I
n order to file your Homestead Exemption and reduce your taxes, you must have purchased and occupied your home by December 31, 2012 (or December 31st of the previous year), the home must be your primary residence, not currently claiming Homestead on a different property, and you must be an individual (not a business entity).

Why Do I Need to File for the Homestead Exemption?

Homestead exemption laws typically have four primary features:
 
  1. Provide an exemption/reduction in your property taxes
  2. Prevent the forced sale of a home to meet the demands of creditors. Homestead exemptions do not apply for failure to pay mortgage, taxes, or HOA dues
  3. Allows a tax-exempt homeowner to vote on property tax increases proposed in that area
  4. Grants a surviving spouse, minor children, and/or unmarried children of a deceased homeowner the right of occupancy
In this blog, we will concentrate on the reduction in property taxes and how to file for your Homestead Exemption.

How Much Will It Reduce My Taxes?

Once you file for the Homestead Exemption on your home, the taxing authorities (school district and county/MUD) remove part of the taxable value of your home. It typically reduces the amount the home is taxed on by 15%-20% (depending on the county), ultimately lowering your property taxes.
 
For example, if your home was appraised at $200,000 and you qualify for a 15% exemption (this is the amount mandated for school districts), it would reduce the amount of the home you pay taxes by $30,000 therefore you would pay taxes on the home as if it were worth only $170,000. In most neighborhoods located in suburbs (Cinco Ranch, Grand Lakes, Seven Meadows) you will get an additional discount from your county MUD. In this instance, you would qualify for an additional 5% deduction (or a total of 20% deduction) in which case you would qualify for a $40,000 deduction bringing the taxable amount of your home to $160,000.
 
Pleas verify with your county for the exact amount of the deduction as all counties and MUD districts vary.
 

When Do I File?

You must file between January 1st and April 30th. If you do not file in this time period you will have to wait until the same time the following year, therefore losing out on your deduction for an entire year. Once you file, you do not have to file again for the same residence.
 

How Do I File?

In order to prevent a home owner from filing a Homestead exemption on multiple properties that he/she owns, a new law was passed in September 2011 requiring additional documentation to be submitted. This bill requires that the homeowner submit the following:
 
  1. Application for Residence Homestead Exemption
  2. Copy of Drivers License (must match the home address in which you are filing the Homestead Exemption)
  3. Copy of applicants vehicle registration (must match the home address in which you are filing the Homestead Exemption). If the applicant does not own a vehicle, you can provide a copy of recent utility bill with home address in which you are filing the Homestead Exemption or a notarized affidavit.
If you would like to read more about the 2011 changes to the Residence Homestead Exemption, CLICK HERE.
 

Instructions for Filing in:

Harris County - Print out the Application for Residential Homestead Exemption in Harris County, fill it out, attach the required documentation, and mail it to:
 
Harris County Appraisal District
P.O. Box 922012
Houston, Texas 77292
 
For more information about filing your Homestead, frequently asked questions, and a complete list of the types of Homestead exemptions available in Harris County, CLICK HERE to visit the Harris County Appraisal District's website.
 
Fort Bend County - Print out the Application for Residential Homestead Exemption in Fort Bend County, fill it out, attach the required documentation, and mail it to:
 
Fort Bend Central Appraisal District
2801 B.F. Terry Blvd.
Rosenberg, Texas 77471-5600
 
CLICK HERE to read an article published by the Fort Bend Star regarding tax exemptions in Fort Bend County.
 
Brazoria County - Print out the Application for Residential Homestead Exemption in Brazoria County, fill it out, attach the required documentation, and mail it to:
 
Brazoria County Appraisal District
500 North Chenango Street
Angleton, Texas 77515-4650
 
For more information regarding Homestead Exemptions in Texas, CLICK HERE to visit the State of Texas Comptroller’s website.
 
You may also use the general Application for Residence Homestead Exemption for the State of Texas.
 
Please do not hesitate to call me on my cell (832-594-1265) or email me (jennyshepherd@remax.net) with any questions regarding filing your Homestead Exemption.
 
Best Regards,
 
Jenny S. Becker, Realtor, ABR
 
 
 

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