How To Claim Your Homestead Exemption

October 28, 2021

If you haven't claimed your homestead exemption – even if you only recently acquired the property -- you are overpaying on your property taxes. This exemption reduces your property taxes by decreasing the taxable – but not the market -- value of your owner-occupied home.

There is one form to be used to file for your homestead exemption but the process of filing can vary across counties.  This post will walk you through qualifying for a homestead exemption and how to file in your county. 

What’s a Homestead Exemption?

In Texas, homeowner’s property tax exemptions are known as homestead exemptions. The general homestead exemption is the most common type of homeowner’s property tax exemption. It excludes a specific portion of the home’s taxable value, ultimately reducing your property taxes. 

For instance, if your home was appraised at $250,000 in value and you receive a $25,000 homestead exemption, the taxable value of the property will be decreased by $25,000. This means that you will be taxed as if your home had an appraisal value of $225,000.

The homestead exemption also exempts your home from claims of creditors other than your mortgagee.  If you have debts other than your mortgage, then those creditors can make no claim against your homesteaded property in a court of law.  This is a legacy of frontier days when a man’s home and his horse (today one car) were deemed exempt from claims of creditors.

Am I Eligible for a Homestead Exemption?

To qualify, you must possess an ownership interest in the property and reside in it as your principal residence effective the first day of the year.  But in a new regulation which went into effect September 1, 2021 if you purchased the property after January 1 you can claim the homestead exemption in the year of purchase even if you didn’t live there January 1.  

If your property includes unimproved land, you can claim the part of the land that is used for a residential purpose as part of your homestead, up to 20 acres.  

You can claim only one homestead, so you can’t receive an exemption on any additional properties you own. 

What’s a Homestead Exemption Worth?

Homestead exemption amounts are not standardized. Instead, each taxing unit can choose the amount it will exempt, with some limitations. The Texas Property Tax Code requires all independent  school districts to offer a $25,000 homestead exemption. Any other taxing unit can offer an additional homestead exemption of up to 20% of the property’s appraisal value, but the exemption amount cannot be less than $5,000. This means that if a taxing unit sets a percentage-based exemption, the lowest exemption amount a homeowner can receive is $5,000, even if the chosen percentage of the property’s appraisal value is less than $5,000.

How Do I File for a Homestead Exemption?

You will fill out an application form (Texas Comptroller’s Form 50-114 available here) with some basic information about yourself and your homestead property. You will also need to provide a copy of your Texas driver’s license or Personal Identification Certificate. The address listed on the identification provided must match the address for which you are requesting the exemption. You then must submit the application form to the appraisal district for the county where your property is located between January 1 and April 30. 

Specific application instructions for the counties in which Property Tax Protest provides services are listed below.

Collin County

In Collin County, you must file your application form and the required supporting documentation with the Collin Central Appraisal District office at 250 Eldorado Pkwy, McKinney, TX 75069-8023.

Dallas County

The Dallas Central Appraisal District generates custom homestead exemption application forms for each property. To print a Homestead Exemption Application form, you’ll need to search the appraisals to find your property account. You can search by owner name, address, or account number. 

Once you have located your property, click the blue link on the address to view your account details. On this page, you can then select the “Print Homestead Exemption Form” link to download and print a copy of your application form. You can then submit the application form in person to the appraisal district office at 2949 N. Stemmons Freeway, Dallas or by mail to PO Box 560328 Dallas, Texas 75356-0328.

You may also be eligible to apply online if you are requesting an exemption for the current calendar year. If you are eligible, there will be a “File Homestead Exemption Online” link on the details page for your property. Click this link to apply online.

Denton County

To claim your homestead exemption in Denton County, you can mail or drop off your application form at the Denton Central Appraisal District office at 3911 Morse Street, Denton, TX 76208. You can also email your application to customerservice@dentoncad.com or upload your form by submitting a request for assistance on the appraisal district’s website. When the request form asks how you would categorize your request, you can simply select the “Exemption Forms” option.

Harris County

The Harris County Appraisal District allows you to submit your application for a homestead exemption online. You may also complete, print, and sign a fillable application form and mail or deliver it to the appraisal district’s office at 13013 Northwest Freeway Houston, Texas 77040-6305.

Tarrant County

To apply for a homestead exemption for a property in Tarrant County, you can submit an application form to the Tarrant Appraisal District by mailing it to PO Box 185579 Fort Worth, TX 76181-0579 or delivering it to a dropbox location at 2500 Handley-Ederville Road, Fort Worth, TX 76118. You can also receive free assistance in completing your form by contacting an exemptions specialist at (817) 284-4063. 

Travis County

In Travis County, you can claim your homestead exemption by submitting the application form in person at the Travis Central Appraisal District office, which is located at 850 East Anderson Lane, Austin, TX 78752. You can also file an online application.

What To Do if Your Homestead Exemption Is Denied

When you file for a homestead exemption, the county appraisal district’s Chief Appraiser will review your application and supporting documentation and approve or deny your request. If your claim for a homeowner’s property tax exemption is wrongfully denied, you can file a property tax protest with your local appraisal district. 

Your protest will be heard by your county’s Appraisal Review Board (ARB). The ARB is a group of citizens that is responsible for resolving disputes between property owners and the appraisal district.  It operates as an independent body from the appraisal district. At your property tax protest hearing, you can challenge the denial of your homestead exemption, as well as other issues such as the appraisal value of your home. 

Qualifying for a homestead exemption can decrease your property tax bill. Property Tax Protest has been helping homeowners reduce their property taxes for over 20 years.  Sign up for our services today with zero risk: there’s no up front cost and if there’s no reduction there’s no fee.


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