Archive for the ‘The Basics’ Category

The local services you provide through your property tax

Published by Research Editor on August 17th, 2011 - in Taxes, The Basics
outline of tree stoplight, police badge, dog, taxes pay for these
There is no state property tax in Texas. Your property tax is a local tax, going straight to the governing bodies near you. Nearly 4,000 local governments in Texas are the ones collecting and using your property tax, including cities, counties, school districts, and special districts.My home, for example, is taxed by my city, of course, but again for the county, the regional water district, the school district, and the college district.

The different districts use the money for their local needs. Streets, fire protection, police departments, schools, colleges–property taxes are the largest single funding source for these community services. But just what are, exactly, the services you are paying for with your property taxes?

Consider just some of the functions and services of the common governments that use your property taxes:


  • Restaurant inspections
  • Disease control
  • Water sanitation
  • Courts
  • Jails
  • Sheriff’s office
  • Public buses
  • Elections: managing elections and counting ballots
  • Animal care and control
  • Emergency management
  • Emergency planning services
  • Trails, parks, and open space
  • Wastewater management


  • Aviation
  • Local cable channel
  • Animal control
  • Consumer health
  • Garbage and recycling
  • Code compliance
  • Provides equipment servics to other city departments
  • Fire protection
  • Libraries
  • Municipal courts
  • Parks
  • Athletics
  • Community centers
  • Forestry
  • Graffiti abatement
  • Building permits and plans
  • Inspections
  • Neighborhood education
  • Police
  • Public events
  • Streets, lights, signals, markings
  • Parking meters and city-owned parking garages
  • Storm water, including high water warning flashers, drain cleaning, maintaining drainage canals
  • Tap water

School district

  • Elementary education
  • Secondary education
  • School buildings
  • Teachers
  • Supplies
  • Utilities/maintenance
  • Administration
  • School counselors
  • Staff development/training
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Computers and technology
  • Library
  • School buses
  • Nurses
  • Security
  • “Improve the lives of homeless and at-risk families” in the school district, sometimes including free meals during summer vacation for the children of such families.

Community college

  • College education
  • Small business development, including counseling and mentoring
  • Continuing education
  • High school outreach
  • Dual enrollment/early high school
  • Instructors
  • Academic support
  • Student services
  • Scholarships and fellowships
  • Maintenance of property
  • Tuition discounts
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ALL property is taxable…except when it isn’t

Published by Research Editor on August 17th, 2011 - in Taxes, The Basics
motorcycle outlined also text saying ALL property is taxable…except when it isn’t


The Property Tax Code states that all property is taxable if it is located in Texas.

Now, before you start wondering how behind you are in taxes because you didn’t pay property tax on your computer or carpet or carbureator, the tax code continues: all property is taxable unless there is an exemption.

Fortunately, there are quite a few exemptions available. Yes, even ones to cover your keyboard.

The exemptions that apply to most of us are:

  • Residence homestead. For the property you live in.
  • Family supplies for home use
  • Tangible personal property
  • Motor vehicle for personal activities or used to produce income

Most of these common exemptions don’t require you to even apply for the exemption–you automatically get it.

So take a deep breath and relax–you don’t have to pay property tax on your dining table. At least, not here in Texas. Other states, we can’t vouch for, though we’ve heard horror stories.


Property Tax Basics: the Official Document

Published by Research Editor on July 28th, 2011 - in Taxes, The Basics

official basics of property taxes

Texas Flag
Property Tax Basics is a 33 page document from the Comptroller of Public Accounts. It’s a ver

y useful document and I recommend you flip through it. If you like to have all the basic information in one tangible place, this docu

ment is for you.

The language, as befitting a government document, is occasionally a bit thick, but not as bad as you might expect. It’s not the Tax Code or anything like that.

And the calendar is for 2010, but you can get the 2011 Property Tax Calendar here.

The Property Tax Basics document gives basic information on property taxes, how they work, and how to protest–the same things we cover on this blog, only more official, since the document comes straight from the Texas State Comptroller of Public Accounts, not via your humble FYP LLC Research Editor.

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Property Appraisal: the Basics

Published by Research Editor on July 28th, 2011 - in Protest, The Basics

Before your county or taxing authority can tax your property, they must know how much your property is worth. Appraisal is the process of determining your property’s value.

You have the right to have your property correctly appraised: your property cannot be taxed significantly differently from similar properties in your area.

But how does this appraisal process work? Should you be watching out for some Man From the Government in a black suit and bowler hat slinking around your backyard?

Three Methods

No, our tax money does not pay for mysterious government agents to visit every single piece of property. Instead, three common methods to value property are:

  • Market Data Comparison
  • Income
  • Cost

Market Data Comparison

This is by far the most common method of appraisal for residential property. The tax authority looks at the selling prices of properties similar to yours. Did your neighbor just sell his home for $100,000? Same with the other people in your neighborhood who recently sold homes? If their homes are about the same as yours, your home will be valued at $100,000.

This gives you a good opportunity if you feel like you’re taxed too much. When protesting your appraisal rate, look at the market value of the properties around you.

To compare your home’s appraisal to others, look for homes similar in location, lot size, improvements, age, condition, access, amenities, views, easements, deed restrictions, and legal burdens affecting a property’s ability to be sold.


For properties that make money–like offices, hotels, or retail stores–the income approach to appraisal looks at how much money an investor would be willing to pay for this property as he or she anticipates future income from the property.

In other words, for an office that generates $1 million in income each year, how much would an investor pay to own that office? That amount is the appraised value.


Some properties are not sold frequently or–like new buildings–are still under construction and therefore have no data on anticipated income or market comparison. For these, the cost method of appraisal is used. The appraiser calculates how much it would cost to replace this property with one equally useful.

Protesting Appraisal

Over-appraisal (making your property taxes higher) is forbidden by law, so you have the right to protest.

To protest your appraisal, look at our post series on how to protest your property’s value.

The 12 Rights of Property Taxpayers

Published by Research Editor on July 28th, 2011 - in Protest, Taxes, The Basics


As a property taxpayer, you have a dozen rights to protect you.

Uniform Taxation

You have the right to equal and uniform taxation.
You do not have to pay more than your fair share of taxes.

Uniform Appraisal

You have the right to ensure that your property is appraised uniformly with similar property in your county.
Your property taxes cannot be significantly higher than a similar property.

Appraisal Techniques

You have the right to have your property appraised according to generally accepted appraisal techniques and other requirements of law.
Accepted appraisal techniques include market value (most common), mass appraisal, cost approach, and income approach.


You have the right to receive exemptions or other tax relief for which you qualify and apply timely.
Exemptions, like a homestead exemption, 65 or older/disabled exemption, veteran’s exemption, or charitable organization exemption, lower–or eliminate–your property taxes.


You have the right to notice of property value increases, exemption changes and estimated tax amounts.
By the end of May, you will get a notice if the value of your property is higher than last year, if the value is higher than your rendition, or if your property wasn’t on the records last year.

Inspect Appraisal Information

You have the right to inspect non-confidential information used to appraise your property.


You have the right to protest your property’s value and other appraisal matters to an appraisal review board composed of an impartial group of citizens in your community.


You have the right to appeal the appraisal review board’s decision to district court in the county where the property is located.

Fair Treatment

You have the right to fair treatment by the appraisal district, the appraisal review board and the tax assessor-collector.


You have the right to voice your opinions at open public meetings about proposed tax rates and to ask questions of the governing body responsible for setting tax rates.


You have the right to petition a local government to call an election to limit a tax increase in certain circumstances.

Free Pamphlet

You have the right to receive a free copy of the pamphlet entitled Property Taxpayer Remedies published by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

You can access this pamphlet online.

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Understanding Property Taxes in 3 Easy Steps

Published by Research Editor on July 28th, 2011 - in Loans, Taxes, The Basics

What are property taxes?

Local governments are funded by property taxes, which pay for everything from schools and streets to police and fire departments. Since we don’t have income taxes in Texas (yay!), sales tax and property tax are what funds our governing bodies.

Property tax is a tax on the value on things you own, especially land. It’s a local tax: local officials decide how valuable your property is, the local government sets the tax rates, and it’s up to the local authorities to collect on the taxes.

There are different ways of deciding how valuable your property is, but most often the local officials decide based on the current market value of similar properties.

What are property tax loans?

A lien is attached to your property each year until you pay your property tax. This means if you don’t pay your taxes, the government can foreclose on your property. Makes paying your taxes pretty important.

But, of course, life happens and sometimes a person is unable to pay their taxes for the current year. A property tax loan is a loan that pays your complete tax obligation, including interest, penalties, costs, and fees.

Property tax loans cover any type of taxable real estate: residential, commercial, investment property, undeveloped land, and developed land.

In addition to paying current taxes, a property tax loan can pay off delinquent taxes and the associated costs and fees.

What about me?

Do I need a property tax loan? Should I apply for one?

If you have delinquent taxes–or if the threat of delinquency is looming over you this year–very seriously consider getting a tax loan to avoid foreclosure, lawsuit, and other penalties that stack up quickly.

Texas Property Tax Loans will serve your needs extremely well, should you need a property tax loan.

© 2013 FYP, LLC.