It’s the season for going over your property tax bills. Anita Campbell, Chief Appraiser for the Ector County Appraisal District in Texas and Odessa American columnist, has the answers to some of the most common concerns about property taxes, tax statements, and exemptions.
Receiving your 2018 property tax statement
By now, you should have your hands on your 2018 tax statement. The exception is if a mortgage company pays your tax from an escrow account.
In Ector County, property owners receive a tax statement for each property they own. The property tax bills include the amounts for each taxing entity with jurisdiction in the location of the property. The Ector County Appraisal District generates the bills.
According to the Texas Property Tax Code, the validity of the tax and your responsibility for payment are not affected by your “failure to receive” the tax statement. This is not acknowledged as a valid excuse for missing your tax payments. Unfortunately, if you are not able to pay your tax on time because you did not receive the statement, the Ector County Appraisal District will be unable to waive the interest and penalty fees.
If, by now, you have yet to receive the property tax bill for the properties you own, contact the Ector County Appraisal District to avoid paying additional fees. Under Texas law, unpaid property taxes can result in foreclosure, tax suits, and court costs. Ector County holds several auctions each year to sell properties for which the property taxes were left unpaid.
If you have not paid your 2018 property taxes by February 1, 2019, they will be considered delinquent and will begin to accrue interest and penalty fees. In February, the interest and penalties will be at 7 percent. The additional fees will increase with each month that the property taxes are unpaid.
If your property taxes are still unpaid by July 1, you will receive 38 percent in interest, penalty, and attorney fees.
Tax amount and valuation of property
Your 2018 property tax is computed based on the taxable value of the property stipulated in the appraisal notice you received in April/May and the tax rate assumed by each taxing identity in September. The deadline for protesting the valuation of a property or the assessment of a late filing fee is May 31.
The Ector County Independent School District adopted a tax rate that was approved by voters during the tax ratification election on November 6. This means that the tax statements that were mailed in October hold true. There will be no corrected statements with a reduced Independent School District tax rate.
Residential homestead and other tax exemptions
You may be eligible for a residential homestead exemption if you own your home and have used it as a principal residence since January 1, 2018. If you already have the residential homestead exemption and are over 65 years old or disabled, you may be eligible for an additional exemption. If you qualified for the over 65 or disabled exemption, you can also opt to pay for your taxes in four installments.
Veterans with a service-connected disability are also qualified for additional exemptions. The deadline for processing late 2016 and 2017 exemptions and applying the tax savings to your 2018 taxes is February 1, 2019.