Appraisal District Renews Homestead Exemptions

Chief Appraiser Jim Robinson
The Harris County Appraisal District has now mailed confirmation postcards to homeowners who are currently on file with a homestead exemption. Residents who don't give correct information could wind up with a huge tax bill.

The Appraisal District says if the information on your postcard is correct, you don't have to do anything, and your homestead exemption will be renewed automatically.

But if there's been a change, you have to send the card back, and the Appraisal District will send you a letter asking for re-qualification.

Chief Appraiser Jim Robinson says they want eligible homeowners to get a break on their property tax, but they also want to make sure people aren't taking exemptions improperly.

They found some of those homeowners during a recent audit.

"They had inherited the property.  They never changed the ownership in the public records. They never told us that the person who was getting the over-65  exemption was deceased."

And there were some cases where homeowners dodged property taxes for years.

"We found at least one situation where you had the third generation in that house. It was still in the name of the original owner in the deed records, so they had never notified the appraisal district."

Robinson says when someone doesn't give proper information about who actually owns the property, the appraisal district has cancel the exemption retroactively and back assess the taxes.

"In some cases you are looking at a very, very significant back tax bill plus interest, and then further if someone falsifies the information, of course it's a felony."

Harris County offers homestead exemptions for senior citizens, the disabled, and people who use their home as their primary residence.

Bio photo of Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

Gail Delaughter joined KUHF in October 2008 as Saturday morning news anchor and host. A native of New Orleans and a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Gail has extensive experience in Texas and Louisiana as a radio news reporter and morning show anchor and co-host...