Posts Tagged ‘exemptions’

The Senior Citizen’s Guide to Property Taxes

Published by Research Editor on February 23rd, 2013 - in Tax loopholes and exceptions, Taxes, The Basics

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Senior citizen by allspice1, on Flickr
While American culture at large does not seem to respect or revere its mature citizens the way other cultures do, laws are written to benefit senior citizens more than just about anyone else.

As a senior aged 65 or older, you are entitled to extra exemptions, a tax ceiling, payment in installments, and tax deferral.

Exemptions

As a homeowner, you get a $15,000 homestead exemption. As someone 65 or older, you also get a $10,000 exemption on top of that. Be sure to apply for both!

Tax Ceiling

When you apply for the $10,000 Senior exemption, the school taxes on your property are limited. Even if the market explodes and your $100,000 house is suddenly worth a million dollars, some of your property taxes will be based on that $100,000 value. See our article on tax ceilings for more details.

Installments

As a mature citizen, you have the option to pay your property taxes in installments. Instead of paying your entire property tax bill by January 31, you have the option to make four payments, ending in July. Click here to see our guide for more details.

Deferral

Your final option is to defer your taxes. This means you can postpone paying your taxes as long as you live in your home. You won’t be foreclosed on.

Deferral doesn’t mean that the taxes are gone–you must pay them eventually. They also accrue 8% interest each year while they are deferred. But deferral is an option for those times you just aren’t able to pay.

Your Options

Senior Citizens have more options than most when it comes to property taxes. The law is written to be more lenient toward seniors than anyone else. It is your right to use as many exemptions and benefits that you qualify for.

4 ways to lower your property tax bill

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1. Claim your exemptions!

Exemptions exist to lower your tax bill. Take as many as you qualify for.

  • Homestead exemption. This significantly lowers your bill.
  • 100% disabled veteran’s exemption
  • Partially disabled veteran’s exemption

2. Set a tax ceiling on your taxes.

Property tax ceilings are for residents 65 or older and limit your taxes.

3. Look for errors.

We’re all human, and mistakes do happen. Look over your tax bill carefully to ensure it is correct.

4. Protest if your assessment is incorrect.

The Texas constitution guarantees your right to equal and uniform property taxes. Your property taxes can’t be significantly higher than a similar property with similar characteristics. However, appraisers don’t appraise your specific house every single year, so their assessment might be off.

If your house has been appraised incorrectly, follow our outline to protest the appraisal. The lower your appraisal, the lower your property taxes will be.

Property Tax Ceiling

Published by Research Editor on January 22nd, 2013 - in Tax loopholes and exceptions, Taxes

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Great news! If you are 65 or older, your taxes are limited. Even if the market explodes and your $100,000 house is suddenly worth a million dollars, some of your property taxes will be based on that $100,000 value.

How does this work?

When you apply for a property tax ceiling, the school taxes on your home can’t increase–even if your home value does–for as long as you live in that home.

Your property taxes are based on several districts or jurisdictions, like school, city, county, hospital, and water. Each district collects property taxes from you. The tax ceiling limits how much property taxes the school district can collect. However, some counties allow the tax ceiling to limit how much city, county, and college districts can collect, as well.

So the tax ceiling applies to school taxes within my property taxes. What about the county taxes? Water tax district? Hospital? Junior college?

The tax ceiling in NOT applicable to water, hospital, and other special districts.

City, county, and Junior college district property taxes are sometimes subject to the tax ceiling limitation. The County commissioners court, city council, or board of the junior college district can authorize a atax limitation of homesteads for those disabled or 65 or older. Check with your county to see if this applies to you.

Who qualifies for the property tax ceiling?

Anyone who has received an over 65 or disabled person homestead exemption.

What if I improve my home?

Home improvements will raise the tax ceiling.

What if I move?

You can transfer a percentage of the tax ceiling to your new home. The Comptroller of Public Accounts offers this example:

If you currently have a tax ceiling of $100, but would pay $400 without the ceiling, the percentage of tax paid is 25 percent. If you move to another home and the taxes on the new homestead would normally be $1,000 in the first year, the new tax ceiling would be $250, or 25 percent of $1,000.

How do I transfer a tax ceiling?

You can get a certificate from the chief appraiser in the district where you received the tax ceiling. When you apply for homestead exemptions on your new home, bring the tax ceiling certificate to the chief appraiser in the district where your new home is.

If I am the surviving spouse of someone who was entitled to the tax ceiling, can I get it, too?

Depends.

If you are the surviving spouse, 55 years of age or older, and your spouse was 65 years of age or older, you may benefit from the tax ceiling.

However, if you are the suriving spouse of a disabled person who qualified for the tax ceiling, you cannot benefit.

Where can I find out more?

The information in this article was researched at the website of the Comptroller of Public Accounts.

© 2013 FYP, LLC.