First-Time Property owner or new to Texas?
In Texas, real property (land, improvements to the land, and improvements on the land) are subject to ad valorem property taxes. The market value of the property (land and improvements) is determined by a Central Appraisal District (CAD) in each county using mass appraisal techniques which apply to large numbers of similar properties rather than individual property appraisals as might be employed by a fee appraiser performing an appraisal for a mortgage loan application. In Texas, property is required to be valued at 100% of market value and all taxing jurisdictions must use the market value as determined by the CAD. There are no "assessment ratios" in Texas. The 2011-2012 Reappraisal Plan developed by Tarrant Appraisal District staff provides a high level of detail regarding the appraisal methodologies in use by Tarrant Appraisal District.
Texas law requires that a CAD notify a property owner of the market value of their property at least once every three years or if
- The market value of the property has risen over $1000 above the previous year's value
- The property has been rendered
- The property has been sold/purchased in the past year
A CAD must notify a property owner, if required by the above criteria, in time to meet the protest deadline of May 31 if possible. However, regardless of when a CAD notifies the property owner, the property owner has 30 days from the date of the notice or until May 31, whichever is later, to file a protest. The Tax Calendar
identifies key dates in the tax year.
An appeal process allows both informal and formal appeal of the property's market value as established by the CAD.
Tax rates are determined by each individual taxing jurisdiction (county, city, school district, etc) within the county. Each jurisdiction is required to publish a notice in a local newspaper regarding proposed tax rates and must allow public discussion before adopting their tax rate. Provisions exist to allow taxpayers to elect to "roll back" a tax rate which exceeds a pre-determined value above the previous year's rate.
In Texas, CADs also administer exemptions. Exemptions, while they do not affect the market value of the property, "exempt" a portion of the value of the property from taxation. "Homestead" exemptions apply only to the property owner's principle residence. Homestead exemptions include the "general homestead", "over 65 homestead", "disabled person homestead", and the special "over 55 surviving spouse of a person who received the over-65 exemption homestead". Other exemptions exist for persons disabled due to military service.
Calculation of taxes must be done on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis, since each individual jurisdiction establishes its own tax rate and exemption values. Please see our "How to calculate Taxes" page for a detailed explanation of the calculation process.
Taxpayers have certain rights in the Texas Tax Code. For example, a property owner has the right to see the information the CAD used to establish market value of their property. In addition,
- You have the right to equal and uniform tax appraisals. Your property should be appraised at market value in the same way as similar properties in the area.
- Your property should be taxed on its agricultural or timber value if it qualifies for such treatment and you apply timely.
- You should receive all tax exemptions or other tax relief for which you qualify, if you apply for such relief in a timely fashion.
- You should receive notices of changes in your property's value or in your exemption status.
- You should be informed about a taxing unit's proposed tax rate increase and comment on it before the taxing unit's governing body.
A taxpayer also has certain remedies:
- If you believe your property value is too high, or if you were denied an exemption or agricultural appraisal, you may protest to your ARB. If you do not agree with the ARB's decision, you may take your case to binding arbitration in some instances or to district court.
- You may speak before public hearings when your elected officials are deciding how to spend your taxes and setting the tax rate. You and your fellow taxpayers may limit major tax increases through elections to roll back or limit tax rates.
- You must apply timely for general, over-65, disabled or any local-option homestead exemptions with the appraisal district where your property is located. If your property is located in a taxing unit that overlaps into two or more counties, you must apply to each county appraisal district.
- You must apply for other exemptions, agricultural appraisal and other forms of tax relief before the deadlines set by law.
- You must report, or render, taxable business personal property to your appraisal district. In doing so, you may give your opinion of the property's value.
- You should ensure that your property is listed correctly on local tax records, with your correct name, current address and property description.
- You must pay your taxes on time. You may not withhold or make conditional payment or attempt to pay taxes into a special account to protest your assigned value, tax rates or the budget of a taxing unit.
A full explanation of these rights, remedies and responsibilities is outlined in the publication Taxpayer's Rights, Remedies and Responsibilities which is available on the Texas State Comptroller's Web site.