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Many miss out on homestead exemption benefits

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Posted: Saturday, February 6, 2010 12:00 am

T here are hundreds of homeowners who are not currently signed up to receive the benefit of their Residential Homestead Exemption. We would like to get those owners to sign up before they get their next tax statement. 

All local taxing entities offer some degree of Residential Homestead Exemption, Disability Exemption or Senior Citizen Exemption. The exemption reduces your tax liability by excluding a portion of your value from taxation. In order to get the exemption benefit, you just have to file an application with the Ector County Appraisal District designating your principle residence.

All homeowners are entitled to a Residential Homestead Exemption on their principle residence.

The homestead exemption status can help lower your taxes in three ways.

First, the appraised value of your homestead property is limited to a 10 percent increase per year.

Second, after the appraised value is capped, the taxable value is further reduced by the amount of each local taxing entity’s optional homestead exemption. The local option homestead exemption amounts range from 10 to 20 percent.

The third benefit is that homeowners receive an additional mandatory $15,000 reduction on their school tax.

For a $100,000 home in the Odessa city limits, the homestead amounts to a $575 annual tax savings.

Homeowners who are disabled as defined by Medicare or who are age 65 or older receive additional exemption advantages. These homeowners are given a school tax ceiling that is frozen at the amount of taxes due the first year they receive a disability or an over 65 exemption. Unless property owners who are disabled or age 65 make additional improvements to their property, their school tax amount will not increase above the amount it is when they first receive the additional exemption benefit. The impact of market driven value increases will not affect their school tax liability. The additional savings for a homeowner on a $100,000 home in the Odessa city limits for the disability exemption is $173 and the over 65 exemption $328. That’s in the first year. Over time, the school savings amount increases. The disabled person and over 65 exemption status also qualifies those taxpayers to extend their payment deadline by making four installment payments on current taxes. Tax payment and lien foreclosure deferrals are available to the disabled and over 65 citizens.

Homeowners who purchased a new home in 2009 will be receiving an application from us this month. Please complete the application and return it to our office. If we have your date of birth in our records, we will automatically grant your over 65 exemption at the appropriate time, but there are many taxpayers whose original application was filed too many years ago for us to have the birth date information in our records.  If you turn 65 this year or know of someone who has or will turn 65 this year, please remind them to contact our office for the additional exemption and tax savings.

Filing the application is free. So if you get an “official looking” letter and application from a company out of Austin, please don’t fall prey to their solicitation. We send out applications to new homeowners and a lot of Realtors notify their clients about the local homestead, but we still get dozens of applications each year from property owners who send their application to us and their $45 to the business in Austin. What the Austin business does is not illegal, but it is absolutely not necessary.

If you want to check the status of your homestead exemptions for yourself, you can go to our website at www.ectorcad.org and search for your property by name, address or account number. The homestead status for your property is located in the Deed & Exemption Information section. If you have any questions about an exemption you think you might be entitled to, please call us at 432-332-6834.

Odessa, TX

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