What is a Homestead Exemption, and why should I care?

What is a Homestead Exemption, and why should I care?

A Homestead exemption is one of several partial or absolute ‘exemptions’ that removes part of the value of your property from taxation and lowers your tax bill.

In addition to the state-mandated exemption amounts for school taxes ($25,000), each taxing unit decides whether to offer the optional exemption and at what percentage.

A Simple Example

Let’s walk through an example, according to TRAVISCAD.ORG, Travis County offers a 20 percent exemption for the Homestead exemption, however, Travis County is only one of several taxing units – the others are Austin ISD, City of Austin, and Austin Community College District.

If your property were valued at $400,000 and you qualify for the 20 percent Homestead exemption from the county, you would pay Travis County taxes on your home as if it were worth only $320,000. The amount of actual savings depends on the exemption and the amount of exemption allowed by each taxing unit.

Difference between TAX Code and Property Code

Texas has two distinct laws for designating a homestead. The Texas Tax Code offers homeowners a way to apply for homestead exemptions to reduce local property taxes.  The Texas Property Code allows homeowners to designate their homesteads to protect them from a forced sale to satisfy creditors. This law does not, however, protect the homeowner from tax foreclosure sales of their homes for delinquent taxes.

Fees and filing deadlines

There is no fee for filing your exemption but you must be the homeowner of record on the 1st day of the year of your application.  If you sent in an exemption request last year and you were not the homeowner of record on Jan 1 last year, the exemption will not be filed. You will need to file a new request between Jan 1, 2017 and April 30, 2017.

How do I apply for an exemption?

Travis County exemption applications are available from the Customer Service department during normal business hours. You may email a request to have an application sent to you or call our Customer Service department at (512) 834-9138. You may download the application from the Forms page of the Travis County Appraisal District’s website or right click TravisCAD Homestead Form.


After completing and signing the form, you may mail a physical to:

Travis County Appraisal District
P.0. Box 149012
Austin, TX 78714-9012

or scan the completed and signed form and email to Travis CAD, tax_info@tcadcentral.org.


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