Understanding your Texas Property Tax Bill

When you receive a property tax bill, it’s essential that you understand how to read it. The contents of the statement include important information that every homeowner should be aware of and ready to verify. All property taxes are due before February 1 of the following year.

Do not quickly file or discard the paper when you receive your tax bill in the mail. Verifying parts of the tax bill can ensure you do not pay too much. Plus, if you believe your home's assessed value is too high, you have the right to protest. And a successful Texas property tax protest results in you paying fewer taxes.

What Should I Do if I Don’t Receive a Tax Bill?

Each local assessor sends property tax bills by October 1 annually or as soon as possible if there is a delay. So, if you do not receive a property tax bill for your home by mid-October, you may want to take action.

However, keep in mind that the assessor may have sent your property tax bill to your mortgage company. If you have elected to have your mortgage company pay your taxes on your behalf from an escrow account, the bill can bypass you entirely. You can check with your mortgage company to ensure it received a statement and have them forward you a copy.

What Information is Included in My Property Tax Bill?

When you open your tax bill, there are vital pieces of data spread across the notice. You will want to find and quickly verify the following points on the statement:

  • The property listed is actually your house
  • The amount due in property taxes
  • The due date for your property taxes (typically January 31 of the following year)
  • The assessed value of your home
  • Any exemptions applied to the assessed value
  • The taxing units included in this bill
  • The tax rate applied by each taxing unit
  • The taxable value of your home subject to each taxing unit after exemptions

There is a lot of information contained in this document. The Texas Comptroller has a helpful infographic that can help you find these pieces of data on your bill. The bill also includes information on accepted payment methods in your area.

Note that you may receive more than one property tax bill. Your home is subject to multiple taxing units (a school district, a county, a municipality, etc.). The local taxing units can choose to combine their billing and collection efforts and have multiple units listed on one bill. But if they do not, each taxing district may send you a separate property tax bill.

How is the Amount I Owe Calculated?

Your property tax bill will contain critical information regarding the calculation of your total property tax liability. First is the assessed value, which is supposed to correspond to the market value of your house on January 1 of the current year.

The assessed value then has any qualified exemptions deducted before applying tax rates. By subtracting the exempted amount from the total assessed value, you get the net taxable value of your home.

The net taxable value is multiplied by the tax rate each taxing unit charges, then multiplied by 100, resulting in the dollar amount you owe to that taxing unit.

Can I Lower My Property Tax Bill? 

Because you cannot change the tax rates in your area, there are two ways to potentially lower your property taxes. First, apply for and verify you are receiving all qualified exemptions. For example, every Texas school district must provide a $25,000 primary residence exemption, removing the amount from your home's assessed value before applying the tax rate, lowering your bills.

Second, you can protest your property’s assessed value. During a Texas property tax protest, you argue your local appraisal district over-assessed your home. If your home’s assessed value exceeds its market value, you are entitled to a reduced assessment. And a reduced assessment will mean you pay less to each taxing unit in your area.

Watchtower Protest offers property tax protest services risk-free to Texas homeowners. That means you won't pay a cent unless our experienced team secures you a lower property tax bill. Begin your tax protest process by signing up for Watchtower's services online today!

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