man and woman confused looking at tax bill paper

How Do I Read My Texas Property Tax Bill?

By now, most property owners in Texas should have received their property tax bill in the mail. You can expect to see the total amount owed and the January 31 deadline date clearly stated on your property tax bill. However, your property tax bill may include a few additional line items that could cause confusion. In this blog, we break down a few items you may find on your bill to help you gain a better understanding of your Texas property tax bill. 

1. Amount of Property Taxes Due, Due Date, and Delinquency Due Date 

At the bottom of your property tax bill, your total amount due will be displayed, typically with payment options and discounts, if they are available. The bill will also include the payment deadline of January 31st, along with the delinquency date and the rates of interest and penalties that could be applied when determined delinquent.  

2. Payment Options and Discounts, if Available 

Depending on the county you are paying property taxes in and taxpayer eligibility, you may have the option of making installment payments on your property tax bill. Visit this helpful resource from the Texas Comptroller to learn more about payment options on your Texas property tax bill or check with your local tax collection office for payment options that may be available. 

If your home qualifies for an exemption (a reduction or complete elimination of your taxes based on certain qualifications), it should be included on your tax bill. The most common exemptions include Residential Homestead, Over 65, Surviving Spouse (age 55 and over), Disability Homestead, and Disabled Veterans.  

3. Tax-Assessed Value 

Tax-assessed values are used by your local government to determine how much property tax you should pay. A home’s tax-assessed value represents an annual estimation of the value of a property reduced by any exemptions in place. Some exemptions may not apply to every taxing entity for which taxes are being collected, so it is common to have a different taxable value for different lines.  

On your bill, you will see your tax-assessed value, which you should have received earlier in the year from your local tax office. There will typically be a breakdown to show where that money is being allocated–it may be funding a school district, a community college, or a local municipal utility district. Some counties clearly label the different tax components while others have only hard-to-understand codes for each taxing entity. 

The actual tax amounts for each entity are then calculated by multiplying the tax-assessed value by the assessment rate (sometimes also called the mill levy or the assessment ratio) to give the “base due” or “base levy.” Often, the bill does not show the actual assessment rate and simply shows the amount due. 

4. Appraised Home Value 

The appraised value of your home is a representation of an expert’s estimation of how much your property is worth. In Texas, the chief appraiser sends out a detailed notice of appraised value to property owners annually. 

Depending on where you live, many Texans saw a big increase in their appraised home value this year. If you had a significant increase from the appraisal district, you should expect to see a greater increase on next year’s property tax bill. Be on the lookout for your appraisal notice next year–if you think the appraised home value is too high, you may consider protesting your bill or looking at your options. It is too late to protest the value of your property for this year’s taxes. 

5. Multiple Property Tax Bills from Different Entities 

Although it is less common to receive multiple property tax bills in the mail, it is still possible to have up to four different bills if your taxing entities do not cooperate. For instance, your school district may bill you separately, or one of your taxing authorities may not contract with the county to combine their taxes into one single bill. If you do receive more than one bill, you should study them closely and contact your taxing authority if you believe you received one or more in error. You should not ignore it because you have already paid a different property tax bill. 

If you want to learn more about the contents of a current Texas property tax bill, the Texas Comptroller has a great resource here

Speak to Our Team of Texas Property Tax Professionals Today 

If you have questions or concerns about paying your property tax bill on time – contact us today. At Johnson and Starr, we can provide answers to your questions and advise on the right plan for you to pay off your property taxes.