Are You Eligible for a Home Tax Exemption for Disaster Damage?

The winter storm that hit in February left many people with significant home damage. Unfortunately, property values are appraised as of January 1st each year, so many homeowners have outstanding property tax bills for homes that are no longer worth their appraised values. If your home was damaged during the winter storm, you may be eligible for a temporary tax exemption for disaster damage under Texas Tax Code Section 11.35. If you want to look up the technical language associated with this tax code, it’s readily available online. You can also continue reading our blog where we’ll break down the details. 

What is the Temporary Property Tax Exemption for Disaster Damage? 

In the state of Texas, qualified properties in a governor-declared disaster area that have sustained damage diminishing their value by at least 15% may be eligible for a temporary property tax exemption. Like other forms of exemption, the disaster damage exemption reduces the appraised value of a home by a specific percentage. The homeowner needs to apply for a temporary exemption no later than 105 days after the disaster area is declared. 

What “Counts” as a Qualified Property for Temporary Disaster Damage Exemption?

Your county’s chief appraiser will determine whether or not a property qualifies for disaster exemption. They will work with appropriate resources like the local emergency management team or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to determine whether or not properties should be qualified for this tax exemptions. 

How Much Will My Disaster Damage Exemption Reduce My Property Value? 

The percentage of exemption will depend on the amount of damage your home sustains, which will indicate a damage assessment rating determined by the chief appraiser. Specifically, homeowners can expect to be given one of the following rating levels:

  • Level 1: Reduced value of the home 15%<30% – 15% exemption 
  • Level 2: Reduced value of the home 30%<60% – 30% exemption 
  • Level 3: Reduced value of the home 60%<100% – 60% exemption
  • Level 4: Reduced value of the home 100% – 100% exemption

Once a disaster damage assessment rating is assigned to your home, your appraisal district will apply the reduced home value for the part of the year after the governor declared the disaster. Essentially, they’ll divide 365 (days in the year) by the number of days remaining after the governor declared the disaster. 

Are There Other Options Available to Help Me Cover Property Taxes in a Disaster Area?

In addition to the temporary disaster exemption, homeowners whose properties were damaged in the governor-declared disaster may be eligible for an installment payment plan under the Texas Tax Code Section 31.032. These installment agreements allow people to pay their property taxes in four equal payments. 

Will I Lose My Homestead Exemption if I Can’t Live in My Damaged Property? 

Many homeowners worry that they’ll lose their homestead property tax exemption if they can’t live in the home because of disaster damage. According to Texas Tax Code Section 11.135, homeowners may continue to receive their homestead exemption if they’re unable to live in the home after damage caused by a disaster as long as they begin repair or reconstruction in a timely manner. 

Can I Still Get Help to Cover My Property Taxes? 

Whether you’ve been financially impacted the by pandemic, you’re struggling to cover home repairs after the winter storm, or you just can’t fit the cost of your property tax bill into your budget, the Home Tax Solutions team is here to help. Get started finding out about home tax loans today by completing our simple online form. When our team hears from you, we’ll reach out to provide the final details about your property tax loan.