Oct 6, 2018

The Texas Property Tax Cycle

We’ve all heard about the two things you can’t avoid – death and taxes. Just like there is a life cycle, there is a property tax cycle. The tax cycle is a lot easier to predict.
This life cycle of property taxes follows the same pattern every year. If you’re a Texas homeowner, your property is somewhere in this predictable rotation.
I offer you a synopsis of the tax collection cycle. Follow along with the snazzy graph I made from information from the Texas Tax Code.
January 1 – The start of a new property tax year. The owner of the property as of January 1st is personally responsible for taxes that year. Tax assessments and exemptions are typically based on the status of the property and ownership as of January 1st.
Spring – is ‘appraisal’ time. Actually, I’d call it ‘taxable value’ time. Because the value according to the tax district is not always the same as a genuine appraisal. Nonetheless, this is when tax districts determine the taxability and value of properties. Exemptions need to be on file by April/May.
Notification – Taxing districts must notify property owners of their appraised value by either April 1 or May 1 (depending on the type of property) or “as soon thereafter as practicable”. According to the Texas Property Tax Code, if there is no change in your tax position then they don’t have to notify you. I’m looking forward to the year that I don’t get a notification or increase in my assessment.
Summer Protest Time  They call this ‘equalization’ down at the tax office. It’s when you can protest the value they place on your property. After protest time is over, the value of the property is set for the next year.
Tax Rates Set – The local taxing authorities set the rates. This is different from your property value. The rates are based on how much money the local government, schools, etc. need and/or want. Rates can go up or down. Typically, when property values go up, the tax folks don’t need to raise the rates because their revenue will automatically go up. If property values are flat, then they may raise the rates to increase revenue.
October 1 – tax bills go out to property owners. That is also when the bills are payable. In some areas you can get a discount by paying your taxes at this time.
January 31 of the next year – Previous year taxes are due. If you got your 2018 tax bill in October, it is due by January 31st 2019. Aren’t we lucky that we don’t have to pay our tax bill in advance? I’m trying to find the bright side here. 
February 1 – Previous year’s taxes become delinquent. Late fees start accruing.  If they aren’t paid by July, they are turned over to a collection agency. And like death, there is no getting out of paying your taxes.
The opinions expressed are of the individual author for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal or tax advice. Contact an attorney or accountant to obtain advice for any issue or problem.
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