Who What and When of Texas Property Taxes

Texas has over 4,100 local governments that assess and collect tax dollars from home and property owners that live in their jurisdictions. You pay taxes to school districts, city and county governments and probably some special districts such as water, hospital and sometimes to a junior college.

Each of these taxing units has a governing body that determines the amount of taxes they want to make their budgets and they set their own tax rates. Most of these local government entities contract with the county tax-assessor collector to collect their taxes for them.

With this information in mind, it behooves the Texas home and property owner to know where their money is going and what the budgets are for the taxing units in their local community. This will allow you to understand where the money is going and create awareness as to whether or not the money collected from you is being spent properly. It is well worth the effort to find out where to access local government budget information.

Texas Property Tax Collection Timeline

To begin to understand the journey of a tax dollar, it is useful to know the timeline for the assessment and collection process.

January 1—The appraisal district assesses property values and attach a lien to the property to compel the property tax payment.

  •          January 1-April 30—Appraisals are completed for the appraisal district and exemption applications are processed.
  •          April and May—Notices of appraised value are sent by the appraisal district.
  •          May-July—Appraisal Review Boards hear contested appraisals from property owners and approve appraisal records.
  •          August and September—Local taxing units adopt new taxing rates.
  •          October 1—Local taxing units or the county assessor-collector send bills to the property owners.
  •          January 31—Taxes are due for the previous year.
  •          February 1—Penalties and interest begin for unpaid taxes from the year prior to local taxing units.
  •          July 1— Local taxing units may be to impose additional penalties for the expenses incurred collecting unpaid taxes.

Where do property tax dollars go?

Once you pay your property tax bill, the tax collector distributes the funds to the local taxing units. These local governments apply your tax dollars to programs such as schools, public safety and health, parks and roads and other services and amenities. It is up to the taxpayers to let their local governments know what they want their money spent on and whether or not it is being spent appropriately.

Knowing your rights and responsibilities as a property owner and taxpayer is the first step in being able to advocate for yourself and your community. The following rules for Texas property taxes are set out by the Texas Constitution.

  1.        Taxation must be equal and uniform. No single property or type of property should pay more than its fair share. The property taxes you pay are based on the value of property you own. If, for instance, your property is worth half as much as the property owned by your neighbor (after any exemptions that apply), your tax bill should be one-half of your neighbor's. This means that uniform appraisal is very important.
  2.        Generally, all property must be taxed based on its current market value. That's the price it would sell for when both buyer and seller seek the best price and neither is under pressure to buy or sell. The Texas Constitution provides certain exceptions to this rule, such as the use of "productivity values" for agricultural and timberland. This means that the land is taxed based on the value of what it produces, such as crops and livestock, rather than its sale value. This lowers the tax bill for such land.
  3.        Each property in a county must have a single appraised value. This means that the various local governments to which you pay property taxes cannot assign different values to your property; all must use the same value. This is guaranteed by the use of county appraisal districts.
  4.        All property is taxable unless federal or state law exempts it from the tax. These exemptions may exclude all or part of your property's value from taxation.
  5.        Property owners have a right to reasonable notice of increases in their appraised property value.

Now that we have tackled the basic nuts and bolts of Texas property taxes, we will offer information about what to do if you feel you are being taxed unfairly and how to navigate the tax system to protest being unfairly taxed. See you next week!

If you are buying or selling a home in the Central Texas area, contact the experts at Crawford Realty Group to learn more or arrange a showing. If you'd like to have homes for sale in these areas emailed to you, sign up for our free home finder service and specify which types of homes you'd like to receive updates about.

Posted by Monty Crawford on


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