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Shelby County Appraisal District Encourages Homeowners to Take Advantage of Homestead Exemptions - April 10, 2014
Submitted by Angie Wright

Homeowners looking to reduce their property tax bills in 2014 may find some relief by filing a homestead exemption. Homestead exemptions are offered by counties, cities, school districts and other local taxing units. A homestead is generally the house and land used as the owner’s principal residence on January 1 of the tax year. Homestead exemptions reduce the appraised value of your home and, as a result, lower your property taxes. To apply for an exemption on your residence homestead, contact the Shelby County Appraisal District.

Available homestead exemptions include:

• School taxes: All homeowners may receive a $15,000 homestead exemption for school taxes.
• County taxes: If a county collects a special tax for farm-to-market roads or flood control, a homeowner may receive a $3,000 homestead exemption for this tax.
• Age and disability exemptions: Individuals 65 or older or disabled as defined by law may qualify for a $10,000 homestead exemption for school taxes, in addition to the $15,000 exemption available to all homeowners. Also, any taxing unit may offer a local optional exemption of at least $3,000 for taxpayers aged 65 or older and/or disabled. Older or disabled homeowners do not need to own their homes on Jan. 1 to qualify for these special homestead exemptions. They qualify as soon as they turn 65 or become disabled. Taxing units may offer a local option exemption based on a percentage of a home's appraised value. Any taxing unit can exempt up to 20 percent of the value of each qualified homestead. No matter what percentage of value the taxing unit adopts, the dollar value of the exemption must be at least $5,000.
• Partial disabled veteran exemptions: The law provides partial exemptions for any property owned by veterans who are disabled, spouses and survivors of deceased disabled veterans and spouses and survivors of military personnel who died on active duty. The amount of exemption is determined according to the percentage of service-connected disability.
• 100% Residence Homestead Exemption for Disabled Veterans: A disabled veteran who receives from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (1) 100 percent disability compensation due to a service-connected disability; and (2) a rating of 100 percent disabled or of individual unemployability is entitled to an exemption from taxation of the total appraised value of the veteran's residence homestead. Beginning this year, this benefit has been extended to the surviving spouse upon the veteran's death with certain restrictions.

For more details on homestead exemptions, contact the Shelby County Appraisal District at (936) 598-6171. The homestead exemption application is available online at www.shelbycad.com.

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Non-Profits and Some Businesses Face April 30 Deadline to File for Property Tax Exemptions - April 10, 2014
Submitted by Angie Wright

Non-profit organizations that qualify under Texas law to receive property tax exemptions must apply to the Shelby County Appraisal District by April 30.

The April 30 deadline also applies to businesses that receive tax abatements granted by taxing units; ship inventory out of Texas that may be eligible for the “freeport” exemption; store certain goods in transit in warehouses that are moved within 175 days; construct, install or acquire pollution control; own and operate energy storage systems; or store offshore drilling equipment while not in use. If the last day for the performance of an act is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal state or national holiday, the act is timely if performed on the next regular business day.

The non-profit organizations that are eligible for property tax exemptions include but are not limited to: certain charitable organizations, youth development organizations, religious organizations, non-profit private schools, cemeteries and veterans’ organizations. If a non-profit organization meets property tax exemption qualifications, the exemption can be approved immediately after the organization buys or acquires new property during the year.

Non-profit organizations must reapply if the property changes owners; if their qualifications for exemption change; or if they acquire new property. In most cases, after non-profit organizations are granted a property tax exemption, they do not have to reapply annually unless the chief appraiser asks them to file again. For more information about property tax exemptions that are available to businesses and non-profit organizations contact Shelby County Appraisal District at (936) 598-6171 before April 30. Details are also available on the Comptroller’s Property Tax Assistance Division’s website at
www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/proptax/ .

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Disabled Veterans May Qualify to Have Some or All of Their Property Taxes Waived - April 10, 2014
Submitted by Angie Wright

Veterans with a service connected disability are encouraged to file an exemption form to have their 2014 property taxes lowered. Some veterans may even qualify for a 100 percent exemption of their taxes. Texas law provides partial exemptions for any property owned by veterans who are disabled, spouses and survivors of deceased disabled veterans. This includes homesteads donated to disabled veterans by charitable organizations at no cost to the disabled veterans. The amount of exemption is determined according to the percentage of service-connected disability. A veteran’s percentage of service-connected disability determines the amount of the exemption - from a $5,000 to a $12,000 deduction from the veteran's property value. Any eligible person who has not received this exemption should apply by April 30, 2014. An applicant may claim the exemption on only one piece of property, such as a home or any other property the applicant owned on Jan. 1, 2013. The applicant must also be a Texas resident to qualify. A disabled veteran who receives 100 percent disability compensation due to a service-connected disability and a rating of 100 percent disabled or of individual unemployability from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or its successor is entitled to an exemption from taxation of the appraised value of the veteran’s residence homestead. Surviving spouses are also eligible upon the veteran's death with certain restrictions. The disabled veteran or surviving spouse can apply for this exemption by filing a residence homestead exemption application with the appraisal district. The surviving spouse of a member of the U.S. armed services who is killed in action is allowed a total (100 percent) property tax exemption on his or her residence homestead if the surviving spouse has not remarried since the death of the armed services member.

For more information about the property tax exemption for disabled veterans or to file and exemption, contact the Shelby County Appraisal District at (936) 598-6171. More information is also available on the Comptroller’s Property Tax Assistance Division’s website at www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/proptax/.

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Productivity Appraisal Reduces Property Taxes on Farms and Ranches - April 10, 2014
Submitted by Angie Wright

Texas farmers and ranchers can be granted property tax relief on their land. They may apply to the Shelby County Appraisal District for agricultural productivity appraisal and for a lower appraisal of their land based on how much they produce, versus what their land would sell for in the open market.

The Texas Constitution authorizes two types of agricultural productivity appraisals, 1-d-1 and 1-d, named after the section in which they were authorized. For 1-d-1 appraisal, property owners must use the land for agriculture or timber but the lands use must meet the degree of intensity generally accepted in the area. Owners must also show that the land is being used for at least five of the preceding seven years. 1-d-1 appraisal does not restrict ownership to individuals and does not require agriculture to be the owner’s primary business. Most land owners apply for the 1-d-1 appraisal.

Under 1-d appraisal, the land needs to be in use for at least three years and the owner must be an individual versus corporations, partnerships, agency or organization. The land must also be the owner’s primary source of income.

Penalties in the form of rollback tax, or the difference between the taxes paid under productivity appraisal and the taxes that would have been paid if the land had been put on the tax roll at market value, will be imposed if qualified land is taken out of agriculture or timber production.

A rollback tax occurs when a land owner switches the land’s use to non-agricultural. These rollback taxes under 1-d-1 are based on the five tax years preceding the year of change. Under 1-d-1 appraisal, the rollback extends back for three years.

Texas law also allows farmers and ranchers to use land for wildlife management and still receive the special appraisal, but the land must be qualified for agriculture use in the preceding year. Land under wildlife management must also meet acreage size requirements and special use qualifications.

The deadline to apply for productivity appraisal is April 30. If the last day for the performance of an act is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal state or national holiday, the act is timely if performed on the next regular business day. Owners of land qualified as 1-d must file a new application every year. Owners of land qualified as 1-d-1 need not file again in later years unless the chief appraiser requests a new application.

For more information about productivity appraisal and application forms, contact the Shelby County Appraisal District at (936) 598-6171. Information is also available on the state Comptroller’s website at www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/proptax/

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