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Texas Property Taxes

Texas Property Taxes
Taxpayer's Rights, Remedies and Responsibilities


The Basics

The property tax provides more tax dollars for local services in Texas than any other source. Property taxes help to pay for public schools, city streets, county roads, police, fire protection, and many other services. As much as we may dislike property taxes, this is the way it works here.

Property taxes are local taxes. Your local officials value your property, set your tax rates, and collect your taxes. However, state law governs how the process works.

Property taxes are based on the value of the property. For example, the property tax on a vacant lot valued at $10,000 is ten times as much as one valued at $1,000.

The Texas Constitution sets out five rules for the property tax.
Taxation must be equal and uniform. All property must be valued and taxed equally and uniformly. This applies to similar types of property ? for example, all residential homes ? and to differing types of property ? for example, commercial properties and utility properties. No single property or type of properties should pay more than its fair share of taxes.

With some exceptions, all tangible property must be taxed on its current market value. The exceptions include agricultural land and timberland.

A property?s market value is the price for which it would sell when both buyer and seller want the best price and neither one is under pressure to buy or sell. Land used for farming and ranching can be valued on its capacity to produce crops or livestock, instead of its value on the real estate market. This appraisal is known as agricultural appraisal. Special timberland appraisal is also available to property owners whose land produces timber for products.

All property is taxable unless a federal or state law provides an exemption for it and there is constitutional authorization.
Exemptions may exclude all or part of property value from taxation.

Property owners have a right to reasonable notice of increases in appraised property value.

Each property in a county must have one appraised value.
Exceptions in law exist for taxing units ? such as a school district ? located in more than one county.

How does the system work?

There are three main parts to the property tax system in Texas:
An appraisal district in each county sets the value of your property each year. A chief appraiser is the chief administrator.
An appraisal review board (ARB) settles any disagreements between you and the appraisal district about the value of your property.
Local taxing units, which include the county, city, school district, and special districts, decide how much money they will spend. This determines the total amount of taxes that you and your neighbors will pay.
The system has four stages: valuing the taxable property, protesting the values, adopting the tax rates, and collecting the taxes.

January 1 marks the beginning of property appraisal. What a property is used for on January 1, market conditions at that time, and who owns the property on that date determine whether the property is taxed, its value, and who is responsible for paying the tax.

Between January 1 and April 30, the appraisal district processes applications for tax exemptions, agricultural appraisals, and other tax relief.

Around May 15, the appraisal review board begins hearing protests from property owners who believe their property values are incorrect or who did not get exemptions or agricultural appraisal. The ARB is an independent panel of citizens responsible for handling protests about the appraisal district?s work. When the ARB finishes its work, the appraisal district gives each taxing unit a list of taxable property.

In August or September, the elected officials of each taxing unit adopt tax rates for their operations and debt payments. Several taxing units tax your property. Every property is taxed by the county and the local school district. You also may pay taxes to a city and to special districts such as hospital, junior college, water, fire, and others.

Tax collection starts around October 1 as tax bills go out. Taxpayers have until January 31 of the following year to pay their taxes. On February 1, penalty and interest charges begin accumulating on most unpaid tax bills. Tax collectors may start legal action to collect unpaid taxes on February 1.

What is the taxpayer's role?

You can play an effective role in the process if you know your rights, understand the remedies available to you, and fulfill your responsibilities.

Know your rights:

You have the right to equal and uniform tax appraisals. Your property value should be the same as similar properties.
You have the right to have your property taxed on its market value or its agricultural or timber value if it qualifies.
You have the right to receive all tax exemptions or other tax relief for which you qualify and apply timely.
You have the right to notices of changes in your property value or in your exemptions.
You have the right to know about a taxing unit's proposed tax rate increase and to have time to comment on it.
Understand your remedies:
If you believe your property value is too high, or if you were denied an exemption or agricultural appraisal, you may protest to the ARB. If you don't agree with the review board, you may take your case to court.
You may speak at public hearings when your elected officials are deciding how to spend your taxes and setting the tax rate.
You and your fellow taxpayers may limit major tax increases in an election to roll back or limit the tax rate.

Fulfill your responsibilities:

You must apply for the general, over-65, disabled, or any local-option homestead exemptions before the deadlines in the appraisal district where your property is located. If your property is located in a taxing unit that overlaps into two or more counties, you need to apply in each county appraisal district.
You must apply for other exemptions, agricultural appraisal, and other forms of tax relief before the deadlines.
You must see that your property is listed correctly on the tax records with your correct name, current address, and property description.

You must pay your taxes on time.

We here at Tyler Texas Real Estate disdain the use of property taxes for the use of the city and the county and the school districts. Property doesn't belong to the state as if we were only paying rent. But that's the system that is in place. However, Tyler Texas has one of the lowest property tax rates in the state of Texas. So that's beneficial.