Most homeowners pay a lot of property taxes. Property taxes cannot be avoided but there are a few tricks that can help you see a lower amount on your property tax bill. Before we dive into the tricks, let us begin with understanding the property tax bill.

Understanding the property tax bill & how it is calculated

Most homeowners feel their property taxes are too high. But it is important to understand how the local government has reached that number on the bill. Many homeowners are not aware of how property taxes are calculated. There are two important aspects involved when it comes to calculating the property tax bill, tax rate and the market value of the property.

The tax rates are based on state law. Some states change them annually and some every five years. Local governments set up the tax rates as well and this is known as the mill rate.

The market value is determined by an assessor who is hired by the local government. The assessor determines the market value for a property by either visiting the property or completing the assessment remotely with a certified software. The tax office then multiplies the tax rate with the assessed value. Here is an example of how the property tax bill is calculated.

Let us imagine your home is being assessed at $300,000 and the tax rate is 1%. Your tax bill will be $3,000. In simple terms, the higher the assessed value, the higher the tax bill.

Tricks to lower your property tax bill

  1. Property tax card

The property tax card gives you all of the information the town has about your property over a period of time. It includes information about the lot size, dimensions of the rooms, type and number of fixtures, and any information about the improvements made. If there are any discrepancies, they can be brought to the tax assessor. The assessor will then conduct a revaluation.

  1. Home improvements

Structural changes made to a home will automatically increase the tax bill as the value of the property increases. It is better for homeowners to investigate how much increase an improvement will have on the property tax bill before starting to work on the improvements.

  1. Plan and hold back

Tax assessors follow strict guidelines when it comes to evaluation. The more a home is attractive, the higher the assessed value is. Properties are usually being compared with the neighboring ones when it comes to evaluation. It is better to plan ahead and not make any physical improvements to the house until the assessor is done with the evaluation.

  1. Research your neighboring properties

Information about your property and other home assessments in your neighborhood is available at the local town hall and is available to the public. Reviewing the homes in your area and getting information can often help you find discrepancies that can help you reduce your tax bill. 

  1. Letting the assessor walk through your home

Letting the assessor walk through your home is sometimes a mistake as few assessors examine only the good points such as a new fireplace, etc, and do not concentrate on the appliances that are out of date. Denying access can also become a mistake as the assessor assumes you have made improvements to your house which might result in a higher tax bill. Instead, it is better if you walk along and point out the good and the bad. This will help you get a fair valuation for your house.

  1. Check out for exemptions

Exemptions help in reducing the taxable value of a property and Texas offers a lot of exemptions such as the homestead exemption, 65 or older or disabled person exemption, and veteran exemption. Take a look at the document prepared by the Texas Comptroller that answers all your questions about exemptions.

Appeal your property tax bill

Even after doing all that you can and not being able to see things happen your way, not to worry. A property tax appeal is another way.

Balancing the desire to own a beautiful house and pay less tax can be difficult. But a few things, as mentioned above, can help you reduce your property tax burden. Just a little extra effort can help you reduce your taxes.