Houston Property Tax Guide: How to Lower Your Houston Property Tax
The greater Houston area comprises several different counties. The city generally falls within Harris County, while the larger metropolitan area spans the counties of Galveston, Brazoria, Fort Bend, and Montgomery. Those moving to Houston should know that property taxes are established and collected by appraisal districts and assessor-collector offices in each of these counties. Read the following guide to learn how Houston property taxes are calculated, when and where to pay, and how to lower your Houston-area property tax liability.
How Are Houston Property Taxes Calculated?
The City of Houston's property tax process is managed by the Harris County Appraisal District and the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector office. Like all property taxes in Texas, individual taxing units in the county establish their own tax rates and exemption schedules. The actual calculations are the same for all taxing entities. A property’s appraised value is reduced by any qualifying exemptions or special appraisals, then divided by 100 and multiplied by the tax rate set by each unit.
Harris County Appraisal District taxing entities include several public school districts and a few hundred special districts. The particular location of your Houston home determines which specific taxing units have jurisdiction, as indicated on the annual property tax statement. The total yearly tax bill is the sum of the fees levied by these individual taxing bodies.
Property Tax Rates of Counties Around Houston
As with every county in Texas, property tax rates in Houston area counties are established by and for the individual taxing entities within each appraisal district. Every county, city, school, and special district sets its own rate. There is no single uniform county-wide tax payment percentage. However, we can examine the average rates and tax liabilities based on median home prices in each county.
Harris County property tax rates average around 2.31 percent of assessed fair market values, resulting in a median tax bill of just over $3,000 per year for homes in Harris County.
Property tax rates for homes in Brazoria County average 2.03 percent, with an annual median tax liability of about $2,850.
The Fort Bend County property tax rate runs 2.48 percent, on average. Buyers considering homes for sale in Fort Bend County can expect an average yearly property tax bill of more than $4,200.
Montgomery County property owners pay an average tax rate of 1.99 percent, with median property taxes running about $3,100 annually for Montgomery County homes.
For homes in Galveston County, property tax rates average 2.01 percent, and taxpayers see a median annual bill of around $2,800.
Taxing Entities: Counties, Cities, School Districts, & Special Districts
The individual entities with jurisdiction to levy taxes on a particular property are indicated on the taxpayer's yearly statement. These entities provide insight into where your Texas property taxes go. Harris County's taxing units include numerous school districts, cities, junior colleges, municipal utility districts (MUDs), and many other special districts. For each of these entities, the annual property tax statement will list any applicable exemptions, the appraised taxable value, the tax rate, and the total amount owed.
A complete list of taxing units for each county can be found on the Texas Comptroller's website. In Harris County, for example, there are more than 600 different taxing units. Again, the yearly statement will show which specific entities have actual jurisdiction over a given piece of real estate.
How to Pay Your Houston Property Taxes
As in all Texas counties, tax statements are typically sent between October and November. Property taxes are due upon receipt of the bill, although Texans have until January 31 to pay without penalty or interest. Houston property taxes that remain unpaid on February 1 are subject to immediate penalties and interest.
Houston area taxpayers have several options for paying their property taxes. In Harris County, for example, the tax office accepts payments online, by telephone, via mail, or in person. Harris County property tax payments can be tendered by credit card, e-check, or traditional check. The tax office also offers payment plans that allow taxpayers to pay delinquent taxes in installments over 12 to 36 months.
- Office Location: 1001 Preston Street, Houston, Texas 77002
- Phone: 713-274-8000
- Mailing Address: P.O. Box 4622, Houston, Texas 77210-4622
- Office Location: Brazoria County West Annex, 451 North Velasco, Angleton, Texas 77515
- Phone: 979-864-1320
- Mailing Address: 111 East Locust, Angleton, Texas 77515
Fort Bend County
- Office Location: 1317 Eugene Heimann Circle, Richmond, Texas 77469-3623
- Phone: 281-341-3710
- Mailing Address: P.O. Box 4277, Houston, TX 77210-4277
- Office Location: 400 North San Jacinto Street, Conroe, Texas 77301
- Phone: 936-539-7897
- Mailing Address: 400 North San Jacinto Street, Conroe, Texas 77301
- Office Location: 722 Moody Street, Galveston, Texas 77550
- Phone: 409-766-2481
- Mailing Address: 722 Moody Street, Galveston, Texas 77550
How to Lower Your Houston Property Taxes
Homeowners in the Houston area have a couple of methods available for potentially reducing their property tax liability. Like the rest of Texas, property owners in the counties around Houston can lower their bill through qualified exemptions or by appealing the appraised value.
Taxpayers in Houston-area counties have various partial or total exemptions available to them. All residents are eligible to apply for a homestead exemption. Additional exemptions are available for persons age 65 or older or disabled persons, disabled veterans, and surviving spouses.
Residents of the counties around Houston also have the right to protest their property appraisal. Property tax appeals in Texas are typically filed with the local appraisal district at no cost. These tax protests may result in an informal hearing, a formal meeting before the appraisal review board, or both.
How to Contest Your Houston Property Tax Bill
Harris County Property Tax Protest
The fastest and most convenient way to submit a Harris County property tax protest is online through iFile. Written protests should be mailed or delivered in person to the HCAD office. The forms are available online, by calling the office, or in person.
- Mailing Address: P.O. Box 922004, Houston, TX 77292
- Office Location: 13013 Northwest Freeway, Houston, TX 77292
Brazoria County Property Tax Protest
Forms can be found online or in person and can be submitted online through e-File, through the mail, or in person.
- Mailing Address: 500 N Chenango, Angleton, TX 77515
- Office Location: 500 N Chenango, Angleton, TX 77515
Fort Bend County Property Tax Protest
You may submit a Fort Bent County property tax protest online through e-File, through the mail, or in person. If submitting online, features include checking your status, accepting an offer, filing a protest, and sending a report.
- Mailing Address: 2801 B. F. Terry Blvd, Rosenberg, TX 77471
- Office Location: 2801 B. F. Terry Blvd, Rosenberg, TX 77471
Montgomery County Property Tax Protest
Protests can be made through the office’s online portal, by mail, or in person. If you’re eligible for online protest, there will be an Online Protest ID on your appraisal notice. Protestors can meet with an appraisal officer between April 18 and June 30 for an informal meeting via a phone call or videoconference to discuss their protest, with one meeting per property.
- Mailing Address: PO Box 2233, Conroe, TX 77305
- Office Location: 109 Gladstell Street, Conroe, TX 77305
Galveston County Property Tax Protest
Informal conferences are required if a formal protest is submitted. When completing a form, you must request your data and evidence as well as the appraisal card with a sketch. Galveston County offers free two-hour classes or the option to download the Protest Handbook and watch the online Protest video.
- Mailing Address: 9850 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway, Ste. A101, Texas City, TX 77591
- Office Location: 9850 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway, Ste. A101, Texas City, TX 77591
How Do Houston Property Taxes Compare to Other Cities in Texas?
Because Texas has no personal income tax and home values in the state continue to appreciate, it's little wonder that its property taxes average among the highest in the country. While every property in the state is subject to distinctly different taxing entities and rates, Texas counties assess an average annual tax rate of 1.81 percent. Considering area property values, Lone Star State homeowners pay a median yearly property tax of about $2,275.
Property taxes in the counties around Houston run higher than the state average, though the abundance of land around Houston means that you typically get more home for your dollar. Higher tax rates also aren’t unusual for Texas metros. Homes in Dallas, for example, have a property tax rate of around 2.18 percent and a median bill of $2,827, coming about even with Brazoria County taxes. Several DFW counties have even higher taxes, such as Collin County at 2.19 percent and $4,351 and Denton County at 2.14 percent and $3,822. Homes in Austin are in the same ballpark, with Travis County homes paying an average of 1.98 percent for an average bill of $3,972.
There are Texas counties with low property tax rates as compared to the rest of the state, so homebuyers not committed to an area can save money by researching these counties.
Paying Property Taxes in Houston
To pay for the abundance of public education opportunities and essential community services in the area, the counties around Houston maintain some of the highest property tax rates in Texas. And Texas tax rates are among the highest in the country. However, these above-average property taxes are offset to a large degree by the state's low sales tax rates and lack of personal income tax, and home buyers can seek out the cities near Houston with low property taxes.
Paying property taxes in Houston-area counties is a relatively straightforward process. Statements are received near the end of the year, and payments can typically be made online, by phone, via mail, or in person. Taxpaying Texans who disagree with their property's appraised value also have the right to protest. Once you understand the process, it becomes much easier to save money on your property taxes in Houston.