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File your Homestead Exemption To Save on Property Taxes

It’s about this time of year that I remind people who bought homes in the previous year that they need to consider filing their homestead exemption form. It’s a magical form that allows you to receive a break on your annual property taxes, and applies to your principal residence.

The other thing that it’s worth doing is seeing what our home is worth right now – after all the value at 1/1/2013 is the value that informs your tax bill. Now everyone knows that the start of the year is typically a slow time for residential sales in Austin, but that doesn’t mean you can’t extrapolate from recent sales.

You can download the Travis County homestead exemption form at the TravisCAD site – if you’re a car owner, you have to prove that this is your home address by furnishing a copy of your drivers license and vehicle registration receipt – this is an innovation in the last few years to prevent people just electing to use their most expensive home (in the case of someone owning multiple homes) as their personal residence to get the tax break benefits.

Here are some of the other dates that are pertinent for the 2013 property tax year, and a little explanation of how this might impact your purchase or sale

travis county property tax

A form that allows you to save on property tax – awesome!


  • Jan 1st Effective date for all Property Tax Appraisals
  • Jan 31st Last day to pay previous year’s (2012) Property Taxes without penalty
  • Jan 31st Last day to file Late Protest of prior year’s Tax Appraisal


  • April 15th Last day to file Business Personal Property Rendition
  • April 30th Last day to file Homestead Exemptions and Special Valuation Applications


  • May 1st Notice of Appraised Value mailed by Appraisal District (unless they’re late!)
  • May 31st Last day to file written protest to contest Proposed Tax Appraisal or Exemption Denial, unless Notices are mailed after May 1st.


  • July 1st Delinquent Taxes from previous year reach total of 27% penalty and interest.


  • Sept 30th Taxing Units adopt current year Tax Rates


  • Oct 15th – 30th Taxing Units mail Annual Property Tax Statements. Payable by January 31st of 2014

So the adoption of tax rates in September means that all property for sale sites displaying “tax bills” before then are merely estimating. Often they just report last year’s tax bill, which may be subject to exemptions and caps that disappear when you purchase. So treat these numbers as guesstimates at best.

Also, if you sell a home before the actual tax rate is defined and before the actual assessed value are agreed, you agree to pro-rate the property taxes based on a guess of the property tax bill. So there may be some need for recalculation and transfer of funds between seller and buyer to cover the difference between actual and expected tax bills. Your title company or handy dandy real estate agent can help you verify the calculations.

Oct 15th – 30th Taxing Units mail Annual Property Tax Statements. Payable by January 31st of the following year

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