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Real Estate with Amanda Mims

Providing practical, no-nonsense real estate information and advice for property owners, buyers, and sellers.

A Cy-Fair Real Estate Specialist, Resident & community-driven Professional on a mission to offer superior realty services & ensure a successful transaction.

How to Pay Property Taxes in Houston - Cypress - Cy-Fair Texas!


January 7th, 2018



It's that time of year again! Need to pay your Harris County property taxes? Use this blog post as a guide to pay property taxes online, in person, or by mail. All property taxes are due by January 31st.

If you live in the NW Houston area, or more specifically, Cy-Fair, you have already received three tax bills (yes, three tax bills) for last year. Why last year? Well, property taxes are paid in arrears, which simply means that when you break out your credit card, check, etc. to pay them this year, you are paying for the taxes on your property for last year. The tax rates are based on the assessed value of your home and the land it sits on, minus any exemptions you have (homestead, over 65, disabled, etc.). I’m sure you’ve notice that your tax bill is higher this year than it was last year. In fact, about 90% of homeowners in Houston saw an increase in property taxes in 2017. If your tax rates increased, most likely the value of your home did as well.

If you currently have a mortgage on your home and you have paid into an escrow account all year, your mortgage company will send a check directly to each of the three property taxing authorities. Keep in mind that Texas law requires all property taxing authorities to mail a statement to every property owner regardless of whether you pay them directly or not. If you do not have an escrow account, you are responsible for paying your property taxes directly.

Here is some information about each bill and how to pay it-

1. Ann Harris Bennett, Tax Assessor-Collector

You can pay Harris County property tax to Ann Harris Bennett by cash, check, e-check, money order/cashiers check, credit card, or debit card- in person, by mail, online, or over the phone. If you pay by credit card you will incur a 2.15% fee and a flat $3.95 will be charged per debit card transaction. E-checks are free. If you mail in your payment make sure it is postmarked by January 31st so it is considered on-time.

Pay taxes Online at www.hctax.net

Pay over the phone at 713-274-2273

Pay by mail to – Ann Harris Bennett, TX Assessor-Collector P.O. Box 4622 , Houston, TX 77210-4622 and make your check out to Ann Harris Bennett and include the coupon from your tax bill.

Pay in person at any branch loaction - CLICK HERE TO FIND YOURS.

What if I didn’t receive a bill? It is your responsibility as the homeowner to make sure you have received a bill and that it is paid on time. If you did not receive a statement by December 1st, call 713-274-8000 and have them mail you another copy. You can always look up your account online at www.hctax.net. You will begin to accrue interest as a penalty if your payment is made after Feb 1st, even if you did not receive a bill in the mail.

2. Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District Tax Assessor-Collector

You can pay the CFISD tax collector by credit card, debit card, e-check, check, money order/cashiers check- in person, by mail, online, or over the phone. A convenience fee of 2.5% will be added to credit card transactions, and $1.00 will be added for e-check payments.

Pay taxes online at https://actweb.acttax.com/act_webdev/cyfair/index.jsp

Pay over the phone at 1-866-728-2168

Pay by mail to-  P.O. Box 203908, Houston, TX 77216 (payment only) or 10494 Jones Rd, Suite 106, Houston, TX 77065 (payment + additional correspondence)

Office hours at Cypress-Fairbanks Tax Office (Jones Rd) are 7:30 AM – 4:30 PM, Monday thru Thursday, and 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM on Friday. Call 281-664-6300 with any questions.

All CFISD Property taxes are due by January 31st and you are required to pay even if you have not received your statement in the mail. If you have a remaining balance on your account on July 1 a 20% collection fee will be added to the balance due.

3. Your Municipal Utility District or M.U.D Tax

The subdivision you live in determines who you pay your M.U.D. taxes to. If you have not received your M.U.D. tax bill and you are unaware of who to contact, you can search for your M.U.D. district information HERE

These taxes are also due by January 31st and the homeowner is responsible for paying whether or not a statement was received. If not paid by February 1, the tax amounts due are considered delinquent and begin accruing additional fees. If you are unable to pay your taxes in full we suggest you call and work out a payment arrangement. As with any debtor, making contact with them is the best route.  That way, you will most likely avoid any additional collection fees over and above the interest you will be charged for paying late.

Did you know that, by law, the Tax-Assessor-Collector cannot waive penalty and interest on delinquent taxes, adjust values, or ignore deadlines established in the Texas Property Tax Code?

Understanding Property Taxes

When you pay your property taxes, you are contributing to help pay for city streets, county roads, police, fire protection, public schools, and many other services. Property tax provides more tax dollars for local government services in Texas than any other source (hcad.org).

Property taxes are local taxes (governed by Texas law), and local officials determine the value of your property, set the tax rates, and collect the taxes. In Harris County, property taxes are based on tax rates set by various local governments, which levy a tax based on the value of the property. The Harris County Appraisal District performs the appraisal/valuation process and is responsible for allocating the tax burden among property owners.

Constitutional Standards

  1. Taxation must be equal and uniform.
  2. With some exceptions, all tangible property must be taxed on its January 1 market value.
  3. All property is taxable unless federal or state law provides an exemption for it.
  4. Property owners have a right to reasonable notice of increases in appraised property values.
  5. Each property in a given appraisal district must have one appraised value.

Did you know that the market value of a property is the price for which it would sell when both buyer and seller want the best price and neither is under pressure to buy or sell? The appraised value for tax purposes is NOT the same as an appraised value for the purposes of buying or selling a house.

REQUEST A COMPLIMENTARY HOME VALUATION REPORT

So, How Does it Work?

There are three main parts and four stages in the Texas property tax system.

Parts –

  1. The appraisal district in each county determines the value of taxable property each year.
  2. The ARB, or appraisal review board, settles any disagreements between property owners and the district about property values. The ARB is an independent panel of citizens responsible for handling protests about the appraisal district’s work.
  3. Local taxing units (county, cities, school districts, and special districts) decide how much money will be spent each year. This amount determines the tax rate needed to sustain that spending, which is passed along to homeowners in the form of property taxes. Click HERE for a list of Harris County taxing units and tax rates.

Stages –

  1. Valuing the taxable property. Market conditions, property use type, and who has ownership of the property as of January 1 of each year determine whether a property is taxed, how much it’s worth, if there are any exemptions, and who is responsible for paying.
  2. Protesting values. If you disagree with the assessed value of your property as determined by the appraisal district, you can protest that value with the Appraisal Review Board. The ARB begins hearing protest from property owners around May 15th of each year. Click HERE to file a protest to your appraised value.
  3. Adopting the tax rates. Once the appraisal records are approved by the ARB, the chief appraiser prepares and certifies an appraisal role for each taxing unit. Each year in September or October, the governing body of each tax unit adopts a tax rate and produces a tax levy sufficient to meet its revenue needs. If you are interested in reading more about the rate setting process, visit State Comptroller of Public Accounts HERE.
  4. Collecting the taxes. All taxing units mail their bills in October and it is the property owner’s responsibility to pay the bill whether they have received their statement or not. If the statement was not mailed by the taxing unit, Texas law allows you 21 days to pay after the bill is mailed. If your bill is mailed after January 10, the delinquency date of February 1st is postponed. We suggest you contact each taxing unit directly if you have not received your bills (remember, there are three tax bills in Cy-Fair) by January 1st to avoid any unwanted fees or interest. Regular penalty charges may be as high as 12% and interest will accrue at a rate of 1% per month thereafter if the total balance due is not paid. Additionally, a 15% penalty may be added if the taxing unit hires a private attorney to collect the delinquent taxes.

If you disagree with the assessed value of your property and plan to file a motion with the ARB (appraisal review board), or if there is a substantial error on your billing statement, you are still required to make the payment-in-full on the amount of the bill that is not in dispute.  This will be the only way to avoid delinquency and resulting interest and fees.

Property Tax Calculator

Taxable Value X Tax Rate = $ Amount Due

Click HERE to view tax rates for each taxing unit in Harris County.

So, what are exemptions?

Simply put, exemptions help you save money on your property taxes by reducing the taxable value of your property. There are a number of exemptions available in Harris County –

Homestead – You qualify for this exemption of the property in question was occupied by you as a primary residence on January 1st of the taxable year.  Each taxing unit may offer an exemption for up to 20% of your home’s value. The governing body of each tax unit determines whether they will offer the exemption and at what rate.

For example, if your home is assessed at $200,000 and your homestead exemption is 20%, the taxable amount of your property will be $160,000.

Over 65 homeowners –Homeowners over 65 may receive additional exemptions. If you are over 65 and are not currently receiving this exemption, we suggest you call the Harris County Appraisal District at 713-957-7800.

Homeowners with Disabilities – Persons with disabilities may also qualify for exemptions. “Disabled” means that you can’t engage in gainful work because or a mental or physical disability or you are 55 years old and blind and can’t engage in your previous work because of your blindness. If this applies to you or someone you know, please call HCAD at 713-957-7800.

100% Disabled Veterans Homestead Exemption – If you have a disability rating of 100%, or unemployability from the VA and you receive 100% disability payments from the VA, you may qualify for this exemption. Call the appraisal district at 713-957-7800 for more information.

Over 55 Surviving Spouse –You may qualify for this exemption if you were married to a disabled veteran who qualified for this exemption at the time of his or her death, or if you are a surviving spouse of a member of the United States armed services who was killed in action. Call the appraisal district at 713-957-7800 for more information.

Click here to access the Residence Homestead Application (You can also FILE ONLINE HERE).

Your Role as Taxpayer

As a taxpayer it is so important to know your rights, understand the remedies available to you, and fulfill your responsibilities.

As stated above, you have the right to equal and uniform tax appraisals and you have a right to have your property taxed on its January 1st  market value (tax purposes). You have the right to receive all exemptions which you qualify and be notified if there have been any changes to those exemptions. You also have the right to know about a unit’s proposed tax rate increase, if any, and have time to comment on it.

If you believe that the appraised value, as determined by Harris County is more than its market value, or if you have been denied an exemption, you may protest to the appraisal review board (ARB). If the ARB makes a determination and you do not agree you may take your case to court.

Most importantly, you must pay your taxes on time.

Did you know that if you own tangible personal property used for the production or income, you must render it to the chief appraiser each year? (hcad.org)

All questions or applications about exemptions, home values, or property ownership must be addresses to the Harris County Appraisal District.  Phone 713-957-7800

Wondering what your house might sell for today?

CLICK HERE TO REQUEST A HOME VALUATION!

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Disclaimer : The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Houston Association of REALTORS®
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