Austin Property Tax Guide: How to Lower Your Austin Property Tax
Property taxes can be confusing, especially in a big city like Austin. Texas property taxes are assessed locally and used to fund local projects and public services like schools and hospitals. When you own a home in Austin, the property taxes you pay will be used locally.
Every year, county appraisal districts in Texas assess property values to determine how much property tax is owed on a commercial or residential property. Property taxes are calculated according to local taxing entities' rates, including school districts, city governments, and others.
Many factors go into figuring out your property taxes, and much of your tax rate depends on where your property is located. Several taxing entity jurisdictions may overlap your property's location.
In this article, we simplify property taxes in Austin and discuss what goes into calculating property taxes. We’ll look at the different tax entities, tax rates, and ways for anyone living in or moving to Austin to lower property taxes.
How Are Austin Property Taxes Calculated?
Since Texas has no state property tax, local property taxes are the largest funding source for community services. The total tax rate is the sum of all the rates of the taxing entities that apply to your property. You are taxed on the total appraisal value of your property.
For example, property taxes in Travis County support 127 local agencies or tax entities. The location of your property determines your taxing entities.
So, where do Texas property taxes go? The Texas local property tax is assessed locally, collected locally, and used locally. School districts, cities, counties, and various special districts collect these taxes and spend them on education, infrastructure, or public safety.
Texas counties and local school districts charge property tax on all properties within their jurisdictions. Cities may also charge property taxes on top of the county taxes, and some areas have special-district-based property taxes for water districts, hospitals, and junior colleges.
Property Tax Rates of Counties Around Austin
The city of Austin and surrounding metros are located in four counties: Travis, Hays, Williamson, and Bastrop. Each county has its own property tax rate in addition to other taxing entities within those areas.
County tax assessors appraise property at total market value to determine county property taxes. Then the property taxes are assessed according to the appraisal.
The property tax rate for Williamson County homes is 0.4408% in addition to other local taxing entities. Hays County has a 0.3867% property tax rate, and Bastrop County has a 0.5220% property tax rate.
Taxing Entities: Counties, Cities, School Districts, & Special Districts
Other local taxing entities will be on your property tax statement along with county property taxes. The property's location determines these taxing agencies, and several entities may overlap.
The city where your property is located will use the appraisal value to determine city taxes. So, for example, the city of Austin will have a separate tax rate from Travis County. Likewise, there are Austin suburbs with lower property taxes than others.
The school district for which your property is zoned collects property taxes based on appraisal value and community college districts. Austin Community College receives funding from property taxes.
Special districts might include hospital districts, emergency services, and municipal utility districts (MUDs). The MUD provides utility services like water, sewage, and drainage.
Special district taxes can vary and change depending on the purpose and projects they support. It's important to remember that special districts are separate independent entities from the local government.
How to Pay Your Austin Property Taxes
Property values are set on January 1. Appraisal values are sent out to property owners in April. You have the right to protest the appraisal value until May 15, which is certified on July 25. Tax rates are set in August and September, and then property tax payments are due January 31 of the following year.
To pay property tax in Travis County, you have multiple methods available. You can pay by mail, drop box, in-person, by electronic funds transfer, online, or by phone.
There are several methods to pay Williamson County property taxes, including in person, by drop box, or over the phone. The county also offers pre-payment, partial payments, and installment options.
Paying Hays County property taxes can be done on its website, at one of the county offices, or by mail. Property owners can pay by cash, check, debit, or credit card.
To pay property tax in Bastrop County, you can go through the drive-through for tax payments at their offices in the cities of Bastrop, Smithville, and Elgin. Drop boxes are also available at those locations.
How to Lower Your Austin Property Taxes
When it comes to lowering your property taxes in Austin, you have some options. First, you want to make sure you have applied for all exemptions available to you.
In Travis County, the most applied exemption is the homestead exemption. Homestead exemptions in Austin include:
- General Residence Homestead Exemption
- Person age 65 or older (or surviving spouse)
- Disabled person (or surviving spouse)
- 100% disabled veteran (or surviving spouse)
- Disabled veteran or survivor
- Donated residence of partially disabled veteran (or surviving spouse)
- Surviving spouse of an armed services member killed in action
- Surviving spouse of a first responder killed in the line of duty
You can also apply for a temporary exemption due to property damage. This exemption might be in effect until repairs are made to restore the property to full value.
Another way to lower your property taxes is to protest the market or appraisal value. If you believe your property value has been incorrectly assessed, you can protest your property tax bill by filing a form in-person, online, or by mail.
Once a protest has been submitted, you can meet with an appraiser informally or have a hearing with an appraisal review board. You will have the opportunity to show evidence to support your claim.
How to Contest Your Austin Property Tax Bill
Travis County Property Tax Protest
Travis county prefers those protesting their tax bill to submit the form online. However, you can also submit the form by mail or in person.
- Mailing Address: PO Box 149012, Austin, TX 78714
- Office Location: 850 East Anderson Lane, Austin, TX 78752
Williamson County Property Tax Protest
Forms may be submitted online, through the mail, or in person. When you receive your notice, it includes an online password that you can use to file your protest online.
- Mailing Address: 625 FM 1460, Georgetown, TX 78626-8050
- Office Location: 625 FM 1460, Georgetown, TX 78626-8050
Hays County Property Tax Protest
Hays County property tax protestors may use the online portal to submit forms, mail them, or submit them in person. After submitting your protest, informal reviews are conducted online through a portal, over email, or on the day of the hearing.
- Mailing Address: 712 S Stagecoach Trail, San Marcos, TX 78666 (Tax Assessor-Collector Office)
- Office Location: 21001 North IH 35, Kyle, TX 78640 (Hays County Central Appraisal District Office)
Bastrop County Property Tax Protest
Bastrop County offers online tax protest and physical mail-in forms on the website during the protest window.
- Mailing Address: P.O. Drawer 578, Bastrop, TX 78602
- Office Location: 212 Jackson Street, Bastrop, TX 78602
How Do Austin Property Taxes Compare to Other Texas Cities?
Two main counties make up the city of Austin: Williamson and Travis Counties. Their tax rates differ, and each has its own taxing entities within the metro areas.
On average, property owners pay around 1.87% when accounting for exemptions and taxing entities in Travis County. The average Austin property tax rate is around 2%.
Travis County is the fifth most populated county in Texas. Travis has a slightly lower rate than Harris County, the state's most populous county. On average, Harris County property owners pay over 2.1%, and for people moving to Houston, rates can be as high as 2.2%.
Dallas County is the second most populated county in Texas, and residents there pay over 2% on property taxes. Tax rates for homes in Dallas can be over 2.3% when including all taxing entities.
Williamson County has a significantly lower population in the north Austin suburbs, ranking 12th—below the counties mentioned above. Williamson's average property tax rate is over 2.3% and can be slightly higher in some areas.
Property Taxes: Knowledge is Power
Now that you have a better understanding of how property taxes are calculated in Austin and the state of Texas, you'll be able to estimate the taxes that might be assessed on a piece of property. You can also compare them to Texas counties with the lowest property taxes.
Most of your property taxes will be determined by where your property is located and what entities have taxing jurisdiction over your property. You can visit your county's tax assessor's website to find out precisely what taxing agencies are included in your property taxes.
You have rights as a property owner in Texas, and understanding those rights can save you a lot of money on your property taxes.