Property Tax Laws in Texas

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The Lone Star state relies on property taxes to fund education.
The Lone Star state relies on property taxes to fund education. (Image: texas map image by Vladislav Gajic from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Texas school districts are highly dependent on property taxes to fund operations. Many local governments also rely on property taxes. Texas homeowners, however, write a single check to their county property tax collector, who then distributes the money to the various entities who receive the money. There is no statewide property tax in Texas. The law regulating property taxes in Texas is known as the Texas Property Tax Code. The code, and its subsequent revisions, spans 397 pages.

Chapters 1 and 5

Chapter 1 of the code lays out the basic administration of property taxes and defines certain concepts found in subsequent chapters.Chapter 5 provides for state oversight of the government entities charged with collecting property taxes and assigning values to properties, known as appraisal districts. Levying a property tax requires that the government assign values to properties. Assigning these values is known as an appraisal. Counties in Texas have what is known as an appraisal district, whose task it is to conduct appraisals. Chapter 5 of the Texas Property Tax Code regulates appraisal districts and provides for their oversight by the Office of the Comptroller. These regulations put forth minimum standards for appraisal district employees and provide for annual studies and performance audits of appraisal districts.

Appraisal districts crunch the numbers.
Appraisal districts crunch the numbers. (Image: calculator image by L. Shat from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Chapter 11 - Exemptions

Chapter 11 of the code deals with property and exemptions. It provides for the removal from tax rolls of real estate owned by charitable organizations and public property. This chapter also contains information for how disabled can reduce their property taxes. The rules for homestead exemptions are also found here. The code notes that intangible property is not taxable under the code. Other things not taxable: personal property not used to generate income, the products of agriculture, and increases in property value due to the installation of solar panels or wind turbines, and raw cocoa or green coffee held in Harris County.

If your property is made more valuable by a solar panel, you can't be taxed on that increase.
If your property is made more valuable by a solar panel, you can't be taxed on that increase. (Image: solar-cell image by carsten jacobs from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Chapter 21, Personal Property

Chapter 21 regulates the taxation of certain property that is movable, such as watercraft, drilling rigs and construction equipment. Under this section, motor vehicles are exempted from taxation.

Drilling rigs are taxable.
Drilling rigs are taxable. (Image: Texas Oil Derrick image by bawinner from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Chapter 23

Chapter 23 of the code details the methods appraisal districts must use to determine the value of a property. It is important to note that the sale price of real estate is not public record in Texas, so the district must estimate that value. The statute states that in appraising a property, the appraiser should consider the cost method of valuation, the income method of valuation and the comparable sales, or market value.

How much your house is worth depends on the method used to calculate value.
How much your house is worth depends on the method used to calculate value. (Image: house blueprint and house model studio isolated image by dinostock from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Other sections

Chapter 25 details certain deadlines for the appraisal of property and establishes the right of the taxpayer to view the information used to determine a property's value. In Chapter 26, the code lays out deadlines for levying taxes and the circumstances under which taxpayers may vote to "roll back" a tax increase. Chapter 31 describes the collection of delinquent property taxes. Chapter 32 enables local governments to place liens on property. Chapters 33 and 34 provide for the sale of properties whose owners have not paid taxes. Chapter 41 establishes a procedure under which residents can challenge their property tax appraisal.

Failure to pay property taxes could lead to your home being sold at auction.
Failure to pay property taxes could lead to your home being sold at auction. (Image: gavel image by Cora Reed from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

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