Texas offers a number of property tax exemptions that benefit homeowners, landowners and certain types of business owners. I will start with the homestead exemption which reduces your school value by $25,000 and $3,000 from your County Road and Bridge value. To qualify for the homestead exemption one must own their home and live in that home as your principal residence on Jan. 1 of the qualifying year.

A chief appraiser may not allow an exemption provided by Section 11.13 unless the address on the driver’s license or state-issued personal identification certificate provided by the applicant corresponds to the address of the property for which the exemption is claimed.

If you are 65 years of age or older you can get an additional exemption for your home for the year you turn 65 and forward. Value reductions for the over 65 are in addition to the Homestead exemptions and are as follows: $35,000 off the school value, $15,000 from the city of Stephenville and $5,000 from the City of Dublin and a $12,000 reduction for Erath County and County Road and Bridge value. The deadline to file for a homestead exemption is up to one year after the taxes become delinquent in the year in which you qualify. For the over 65 exemption it is one year from when you turn 65 years of age.

Taxpayers with certain disabilities may qualify for the disability exemption. If you qualify for disability under the Federal Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Program administered by the Social Security Administration, you will qualify for the disability exemption. There are other disability programs that qualify so check with the appraisal district office if you think you may qualify.

You may also qualify for a property tax exemption if you are a veteran who was disabled while serving with the U.S. Armed Forces or the surviving spouse or child of a disabled Veteran or a member of the armed forces who was killed while on active duty. You must be a Texas resident to receive this exemption and have the documents from the     Veterans Administration or a branch of the armed forces showing a disability rating of at least 10%. This exemption can also be applied to any taxable property you own on January 1st. However, you may only choose one property in which to apply this exemption.

Taxpayers that own land outside of their homestead property may qualify for agricultural valuation if the land is devoted principally to agricultural use. This appraisal bases the value on its production capabilities rather than the real estate market and typically reduces the tax bill. The appraisal district has a five acre minimum to qualify for this alternate appraisal method. The taxpayer should also be aware that there are other qualifying factors that must be met when making application.

The deadline to file an ag application is April 30. Should you fail to file by April 30, you may file a late application before the Appraisal Review Board approves the records. Records are typically approved around July 20th and there is a 10% penalty for the late filing. After the records are approved, there is no provision in the law for applying for ag appraisal.

These are the most common value reducing provisions of the Texas Property Tax Code. There are a number of other exemptions that are available such as federal, charitable, religious, educational, farm products and implements, and pollution control. Which are less common for the individual taxpayer. If you believe that you or your business or organization might qualify for any of these, please talk to me or my staff about the possibility of reducing your tax burden through exemptions you might qualify for.

One last note, remember the deadline to file your property renditions is April 15. If you own tangible personal property that is used to produce income, you must report this property on a rendition every year. State law does contain stiff penalties for delinquent or fraudulent renditions. Please check with the Appraisal District for rendition forms and information about rendering Business Personal Property.

Jerry Lee is the chief appraiser of Erath County.