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By Margaret Toal
For the Record 

Big savings come with new property tax bills

 

Last updated 11/28/2023 at 8:14pm

Orange County Tax Assessor-Collector Karen Fisher has mailed out the property tax bills and homeowners are in for a shock. Their bills are drastically lower this year, even with an increase in appraised values.

The tax savings come from a new Texas Constitutional Amendment approved by voters in November to lower public school taxes. Depending on exemptions, taxpayers will be saving hundreds of dollars on their 2024 tax bills.

The cuts will not affect large commercial or industrial property tax rates.

Usually, tax statements are mailed in October. But this year, the statements were delayed because of the November 7 election. The amendment passed earlier this year by the Texas Legislature and approved by voters was then calculated into this year's tax bills.

Under the new guidelines, homeowners with a homestead exemption for their main residence are getting an additional $100,000 exemption on their houses. That means if a owner has a house with an official appraised value of $125,000, they will pay taxes on a value of $25,000.

That rate could be decreased even more, depending on other exemptions. For instance, those age 65 or older, or those with a disabled exemption, get another $10,000 exemption off the appraised value.

The Texas Legislature this year agreed to cut back on local school taxes because of a $13.3 billion surplus in the state budget. The legislature promised to send $7.1 billion to public school districts to offset the loss of income from decreasing taxes.

The school tax cuts are only for the maintenance and operations, or M&O, part of taxes. Those cover the daily operations of schools like staff salaries, utilities, and maintenance. Voters in bond elections approve added bonded indebtedness for new buildings or building improvements.

Not everyone may see a big savings on their tax bills. Orangefield school district voters in November approved a $43 million bond issue that will increase the bonded indebtedness rate by an estimated 35 cents per $100 valuation. Also, Little Cypress-Mauriceville patrons passed a "Voter Approved Tax Rate Election" to allow the district to increase the M&O rate above the state's cap.

Texas has some of the highest property taxes in the U.S. However, the Texas does not have a state income tax. Forty-three states plus the District of Columbia have their own income taxes separate from federal income taxes.

Though the big tax savings are for homeowners, small business owners and landlords with property valued at $5 million or less are also getting a bit of relieve. The new state law requires their property appraisals to not go up more than 20 percent a year.

The Orange County tax bills this year have a new format that includes informing the homeowner of how much they are saving this year on school taxes. The form also shows how much in county property taxes each property owner will save based on the 1/2 percent sales tax. That sales tax was approved by voters more than 30 years ago to offset property taxes.

The tax statements will also show five years of the history of appraised values on the property along with the tax rates and yearly payments to each taxing entity.

Property taxes are due by January 31 through the county tax appraiser-collector's office. Homeowners with mortgages usually pay property taxes through their monthly mortgage payments.

 

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