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Austin Property Taxes: What determines them?

by tom mot last modified Apr 13, 2006 08:42 PM
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Austin Property Taxes: What determines them?

Posted by tom mot at March 07. 2006

I'm a bit confused on property tax rates in the Austin area. How exactly are they determined? Also, I see some homes listed for sale that appear to be within the city limits, yet have their taxes listed as something like $500 to $700, while others are usually way up past $2k per year.

Does anyone know which parts of Austin and surrounding areas have very low to almost zero property taxes?


Re: Austin Property Taxes: What determines them?

Posted by Karen Pittman at March 07. 2006

Hi strain,

Yes, it's way confusing! Here's a link to a page that lists all the tax rates that apply to various parts of Travis county:

All of the county gets the county rate, which is about .005 of the taxable value. Almost everyone is in some school district, which usually adds the biggest chunk but varies by district (from .015 to .0185!). If you aren't in the city (which adds a piece), you may be in some water district, emergency services district, etc. To top off this confusion, different taxing jurisdictions have different rules about exemptions, which decrease your taxable value. Many offer a homestead exemption if the property is your primary residence. There are other exemptions if you are old, disabled, etc. Finally, even if your property is appraised the next year for a much higher value, many jurisdictions (or all? not sure) cap the percentage at which your taxable value can grow to something like 15% per year ( I don't remember the actual value)., However, this doesn't apply if you build something new. Adding on? Not sure if that forces your taxable value to come into line with the appraised value or not. If you purchase a property that previously had tons of exemptions or where the value was capped, none of that helps the new owner.

Anyway, if you have seen properties listed with incredibly low tax rates, it might be that the taxes listed were what was paid the year before, before construction occurred and it was just unimproved land. Or maybe the property belongs to an old, blind, one-armed one-legged person who's been there forever. Or maybe the owner has cheated the taxing jurisdiction into not realizing the property has a house on it.

Or maybe there are actually places outside of school districts. I kind of doubt that though.

Well, this was probably more than you needed to know!


Re: Austin Property Taxes: What determines them?

Posted by tom mot at March 08. 2006

Thanks for the great info! One thing, how do I read the tax table? It has the dollar amounts under tax rate, but I'm not sure how to apply them.

Re: Austin Property Taxes: What determines them?

Posted by Karen Pittman at March 08. 2006

It's $1 per $100 of value. Suppose a rate is listed as $1.500. If your house was valued at $100,000.00, you'd pay 1.5% of that, or 1,500.00 in tax.

Just to give you an idea of how many jurisdictions can have their fingers in your tax pie, here's everything that applied to property inside the Austin city limits for 2005:

AUSTIN ISD 1.623000 ($15K general homestead)
TRAVIS COUNTY 0.499300 (20% homestead reduction)


Re: Austin Property Taxes: What determines them?

Posted by tom mot at March 08. 2006

Ahhh, that's what I was thinking, but wanted to be sure.

My wife and I are really hoping to take the plunge within the next two years, but being of very modest income, property tax payments of $300 or perhaps more per month on top of the mortgage is a bit scary. With that in mind, are these property taxes tax-deductible at the end of the year in any way? What other sort of other tax deductions come with owning a home? Just wondering if there's a way to offset the property tax burden.

Re: Austin Property Taxes: What determines them?

Posted by Melissa Moloney at April 13. 2006

Since it doesn't look like anyone replied to your question, I thought I'd answer.. YES, prperty taxes on the home you occupy ARE deductibe on your taxes. Of course, the interest you pay on your mortgage is also deductible. Factoring in your deductions *MAY* make your house payment easier to swallow... Good luck with the process.. you are very smart to weigh it all and understand the costs before you take the plunge.

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