How to Read Your Property Tax Bill

By Cassie Gresham, Principal, Attorney & Counselor

Most landowners can expect to receive their property tax bills in October every year. It is too late to protest your values, but before you pay the bill, I would advise you to check and make sure that it accurately reflects the taxes that you owe.

Here is a suggested checklist:

  1. Does it reflect the correct market value of the property? If you protested your market value, you will want to check to make sure that it reflects the final amount that was agreed to with the appraisal district. If you have an improvement on your land, then you will see three types of market values: (1) Improvement(s) (2) Land around your improvement(s), and (3) Land. If you have an open space valuation on the property, then you won’t pay based on the market value of the land. Instead, you will pay on the “assessed value”.
  2. Does it show your open space valuation? Check to make sure that your open space valuation (agricultural, wildlife, Ecolab, or timber) is reflected on your tax bill. This typically is shown under the “productivity” or “ag use” category. This will be much lower amount than the market value of the land.
  3. Does your tax bill reflect your exemptions? If you qualify for a homestead, over 65, or disabled veteran exemption, then they should be reflected on your tax bill. The taxing entities will cap the amount that they assess you if you qualify for a reduction due to your homestead or being over 65. You can apply for your homestead any time during the year and it can be retroactive for up to two years prior to the application.
  4. Did you receive multiple tax bills? While you only apply for exemptions or open space valuations in the county in which your property is located, you might receive multiple tax bills from different counties. This typically occurs in the case where the school district is located in a different county.
  5. What is your total assessed (taxable) value? This is the total amount that is used to calculate what you will pay in taxes. For example, your total market value might be $500K for your improvements and your land, but due to your exemptions and open space valuation, you may only be assessed taxes on $250K.
  6. When are your taxes due? Your taxes are due no later than January 31st of every year. If you pay after this date, then your taxes are delinquent. Paying your taxes on time is really important, even if there is a problem with your values or your bill. If you have an outstanding protest with the appraisal district or a lawsuit and fail to pay your taxes on time, then your protest or suit is automatically dismissed.

Your tax bill is the final look at the amount of taxes that you will pay. It is important that you remember to review your Notice of Appraised Value that comes out each year in April. Each year you have the opportunity to protest the loss of any open space valuation, exemptions, or market value of your improvement(s) and land. Your protest is due May 15th of each year, but no later than 30 days after you receive your Notice of Appraised Value.

If you have questions or concerns about your property tax bill, Braun & Gresham can help. The attorneys at Braun & Gresham are not only experts and innovators in ways to utilize property tax incentives and how to reduce your property taxes, but we also serve as your advocates when you are unfairly taxed. We know the rules and how to use them. We also make sure the taxing authorities follow those rules. Please contact us at (512) 894-5426 or email [email protected].

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