This post has been revised to clarify several key points.
Before a recent change in the Texas Tax Code, some homebuyers were not eligible for a property-tax homestead exemption until January 1 of the year following their home purchase. This caused those homebuyers to lose out on any benefit of the homestead exemption for up to a year after purchase. For example, if on January 2, 2020, a person purchased a home that did not have an existing homestead exemption, that person was not eligible to benefit from a homestead exemption until 2021.
Who Benefits from the Change in the Law?
A change in the law that became effective January 1, 2022, allows all homebuyers to be eligible to receive the homestead exemption beginning on the date they obtain ownership. SB 8 by Sen. Bettencourt, which Texas REALTORS® supported, allows homebuyers who purchase a property that does not already have a homestead exemption to apply for the exemption immediately. This includes homebuyers of new construction, properties that were owned by investors, and properties for which the seller had removed the homestead exemption.
What is the Deadline to Apply for an Exemption?
A new homeowner must apply for the exemption for the applicable portion of the tax year before the first anniversary of the date the person acquired the property. There is no longer a requirement of applying by April 30 as there was previously. (The April 30 deadline still applies for other types of exemptions.)
If the new owner qualifies to receive the exemption prior to January 1 of the following year, the taxing units will recalculate the amount of tax due and correct the tax roll. If the tax has already been paid, the excess amount will be refunded. The previous requirements for eligibility to receive the homestead exemption still apply.
How Does the New Law Affect the Process for Applying for a Homestead Exemption?
Though the deadline for an application to be submitted has changed, the process for obtaining the exemption should not change. Homebuyers should check with their central appraisal district for detailed instructions.