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Civic Explainer: Property tax options

By Michaela Rush, Report for America Corps Member
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December 11, 2023

West Dallas

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When you received your property tax bill in October, you may have been afraid to open it, knowing that every year it gets higher. You’re not wrong to be nervous — Dallas had the highest increase in property taxes of any major city in the U.S, as average property tax bills rose 63.8%. 

Because of this sharp increase, you may find yourself looking for relief, and there are options for exemptions — to lower your bill every year — and payment plans to break up the large sum into smaller, more frequent payments. 

Julian Campos sits with the staff of Wesley-Rankin Community Center as they help him prepare his files for the tax appeal workshop to protest the increasing property tax on his home on Friday, May 5, 2023. Photo by Jeffrey Ruiz

If you can’t make the January 31 deadline, there are ways to avoid being penalized, however you do need to collect a few things:

  • Form of personal identification (driver’s license, social security number, personal ID certificate) 
  • Property deed and/or other property ownership documents
  • Property’s most recent utility bill 

Payment plans

In Dallas County, property owners may qualify for four different types of tax payments, aside from full payments and partial payments. These payment plans do not change the amount owed, but can help reduce the burden of growing bills. 

  • Owners who are over the age of 65, disabled, or are a disabled veteran can pay their property taxes in four installments over the course of the year. The first installment must be made by Jan. 31, and property owners must call the county tax office customer care line or email their installment specialist at special.inventory@dallascounty.org to register. This payment type has no penalties or interest. 
  • Owners who have a homestead property exemption are eligible for a Homestead Payment Agreement, even if their taxes are late. More information about applying for a homestead property exemption can be found below.  
  • Some properties that do not qualify for homestead property exemptions can instead qualify for Non-Homestead Payment Agreements, on a case-by-case basis, by contacting the county tax office. 
  • Finally, owners with a homestead exemption and who are over 65, disabled, or 100% disabled veterans, can file for a deferral through the Dallas Central Appraisal District. By deferring, owners can still choose to pay property taxes, or instead leave the taxes on the property. Taxes will continue to collect until the owner’s death or sale of the property, and are then due 180 days later.  
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Property tax exemptions

Unlike payment plans, exemptions will reduce the amount owed by a property owner, either by a fixed amount or a percentage of the property value, depending on the exemption type. 

A homestead property exemption is for property owners who own and live in their residence full-time. Filing for this exemption in Dallas, within Dallas ISD, means you pay a tax rate $40,000 less than the value of your home to the school district, if your home is valued above $115,000, and a tax rate of 20% less your property valuation to the city and county. 

For example, without a homestead property exemption, a property with a market value of $100,000 would pay about $2,300 in property taxes.

The same example property, with a homestead property exemption, would not have to pay Dallas ISD’s property tax, and only pay taxes for a valuation of $80,000 across the other categories, making their total bill only about $1,000.  

If the property is inherited, even if it is shared among heirs, a resident can request an inherited homestead property exemption. If the applicant is not listed on the deed or other document, the applicant will need to provide all of the following: 

  • Affidavit establishing ownership of interest in the property
  • Copy of the prior property owner’s death certificate
  • Copy of the property’s most recent utility bill
  • Any court records related to applicant’s ownership of the property, if available

Disabled individuals, those over 65 can also receive property tax exemptions, paying a tax rate $100,000 less than the value of their property for city and county taxes, and $45,000 less for Dallas ISD taxes. With the $100,000 example, owners in this exemption would only pay about $550 in property taxes. 

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Disabled veterans also qualify for exemptions, depending on their disability rating, from $5,000 to $12,000 off their property tax rate.

This general homestead property exemption can also be combined with over-65, disabled, or disabled veteran exemptions. In this same example, if the homestead exemption and the disabled or over-65 status, were both applied, an owner could pay an even more reduced rate, $0 in this example. 

For more information, you can call the Dallas County customer care line or contact the Dallas Central Appraisal District by phone, email, or visit their office in-person.

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