One Exemption Not Everyone Applies For

It's not too late to apply for a homestead exemption. Even though it's fast and free, thousands of Harris County homeowners do not file for the exemption. It can be a costly mistake. Pat Hernandez has more.

The Texas homestead exemption began as protection for the wives and children of the early settlers against some improper or manufactured claim of debt. Roland Altinger with the Harris County Appraisal District says homeowners have between January 1st and April 30th to apply for homestead exemptions. If they miss that deadline, they can file up to one year from the date the taxes become delinquent.

"The county gives for a homestead exemption 20-percent off the appraised value, and if you had a hundred thousand dollar house for example, the tax liability on that would be 80-thousand dollars. School districts, if it is a homestead property, they're mandated to give 15-thousand dollars. It all depends on the taxing jurisdiction, and we have over 600-taxing jurisdictions in the county, and that includes city, counties, the MUDs and special utility districts."

Jill Wente is a realtor in Spring. She says upwards of 50-percent of home owners eligible actually receive homestead exemptions.

"I think it just has to do to lack of knowledge about it. Then it coupled with when people are buying their home, they get so many pieces of paper so sign off on, and so many different things they're talked about there at the closing table, that they just can't remember them all."

It takes less than a minute to fill out a homestead application, so as a courtesy, Wente sends the form to her clients. She says savings from homestead exemptions can be substantial.

"If your MUD doesn't give you anything, on a median home price of 142-thousand dollars, you can save 377 dollars a year."

Information on homestead exemptions can be found at www.hcad.org.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF...Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...