Friday, October 31, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions
Property Tax FAQs

The following is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Please click on the question to find the answer.

Please contact us by clicking here for any questions not answered below.

1.  How is my property value determined?
2.  How are the tax rates determined?
3.  What is a general homestead exemption and how do I apply?
4.  What are some other exemptions available and how do I apply?
5.  When are taxes due?
6.  Does the Tax Office use the post office cancellation mark to determine the payment date?
7.  What if I don't receive a tax statement?
8.  What if I sold my property last year?
9.  What if I received the tax statement but my mortgage company is supposed to pay my taxes?
10.  What if the name is wrong on the tax statement?
11.  Can I change the address where my statement is mailed?
12.  Are credit cards accepted?
13.  When are quarterly payments due for Over-65 and Disabled Homestead payment agreements?
14.  What taxes are frozen with an Over-65 Homestead exemption?
15.  What is a tax certificate, and how can I obtain one?
17.  If I lease a vehicle that I use for personal purposes, do I have to pay property taxes on the vehicle?

Q: How is my property value determined?
A: The Central Appraisal District determines the value of all taxable property in the county as of January 1 of each year. The Central Appraisal District must repeat the appraisal process for property in the county at least once every three years.

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Q: How are the tax rates determined?
A: The governing body of each taxing unit (school board, city council, etc…) sets its own tax rate each year to raise the tax dollars it needs to meet the budget it adopted.

The process starts on July 25 of each year when the Chief Appraiser certifies the appraisal roll to the taxing unit. The governing body must adopt their tax rate for the upcoming tax year by September 30 of each year.

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Q: What is a general homestead exemption and how do I apply?
A: A general homestead exemption will remove part of the value of your property from taxation and as a result lower your taxes.

To qualify, a home must meet the definition of a residence homestead: The home's owner must be an individual (for example: not a corporation or other business entity) and use the home as his or her principal residence on January 1 of the tax year.

To apply, you must file an Application for Residential Homestead Exemption with the Central Appraisal District between January 1 and April 30 of the tax year -- up to one year after you pay your taxes. Once you receive the exemption, you do not need to reapply unless the chief appraiser sends you a new application. In that case, you must file the new application.

The Central Appraisal District is who grants exemptions and is who you will need to file your application with. The Central Appraisal District may be contacted by phone at (817) 558-8100 or by mail or in person at 109 N. Main, Cleburne, TX 76033.

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Q: What are some other exemptions available and how do I apply?
A: An exemption will remove part of the value of your property from taxation and as a result lower your taxes. Some of these exemptions are:

Disabled Homestead
Disabled Veteran or Survivor
Over 65 Homestead

The Central Appraisal District is who grants exemptions and is who you will want to contact for more information on how to qualify for one of the exemptions listed above. The Central Appraisal District may be contacted by phone at (817) 558-8100 or by mail or in person at 109 N. Main, Cleburne, TX 76033

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Q: When are taxes due?
A: Tax statements are mailed each October and are due on receipt. January 31 of each year is the last day to pay without penalty and interest. Taxes are delinquent on February 1 of each year and subject to penalty and interest.

If January 31 falls on a weekend or a legal state or national holiday, payment is considered timely if it is made on the next business day.

If payment is sent by regular first-class mail and properly addressed with postage prepaid, the post office cancellation mark is considered the date of payment.

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Q: Does the Tax Office use the post office cancellation mark to determine the payment date?
A: Yes, if payment is sent by regular first-class mail and properly addressed with postage prepaid, the post office cancellation mark is considered the date of payment.

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Q: What if I don't receive a tax statement?
A: State law provides that failing to send or receive a tax bill does not affect the validity of the tax, penalty, or interest due by an individual, the tax's delinquency date, the existence of a tax lien, or any procedure the taxing unit institutes to collect the tax. Property owners know that property taxes are due each year and should check if they do not receive a tax bill.

You may want to check with your mortgage company to determine if your taxes were paid timely.

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Q: What if I sold my property last year?
A: If the seller owned the property on January 1 of last year, the seller is liable for the taxes for all of last year. The taxing unit can proceed against the seller personally for the tax.

The taxing unit can also proceed against the buyer to foreclose the tax lien and is why the buyer should be informed of the taxes since the buyer has a vested interest in not having the tax lien foreclosed on the property.

Most contracts for the sale of real property provide that the taxes for the year of the sale will be prorated between the buyer and seller. A reading of the sales contract and any closing statement received when the property was sold will probably indicate how the tax liability was handled. However, the taxing unit was not a party to the contract and is not bound any of the contract's provisions as to tax liability.

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Q: What if I received the tax statement but my mortgage company is supposed to pay my taxes?
A: A mortgage company has to request each year that your tax statement be sent directly to them. If a mortgage company does not request your tax statement, it is automatically sent to the property owner.

If you receive a tax statement that should go to your mortgage company, you will need to write your loan account information on it and forward it to them so they can make payment out of your escrow account.

You may want to check with your mortgage company to determine if your taxes were paid timely.

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Q: What if the name is wrong on the tax statement?
A: The Central Appraisal District is who determines ownership and is who will need to be contacted so they can make a correction to the appraisal roll. The Central Appraisal District may be contacted by phone at (817) 558-8100 or by mail or in person at 109 N. Main, Cleburne, TX 76033.

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Q: Can I change the address where my statement is mailed?
A: Yes, the property owner can request the mailing address be changed by either contacting the Tax Office or the Central Appraisal District. The Central Appraisal District may be contacted by phone at (817)558-8100 or by mail or in person at 109 N. Main, Cleburne, TX 76033.

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Q: Are credit cards accepted?
A: Yes, the Johnson County Tax Office accepts credit cards but we can only take credit card payments through the website or by phone at (866) 549-1010 (please use Bureau Code 3334444).

The credit card master merchant agreement does not allow us to take payments by credit card at the counter since a convenience fee is being charged back to the property owner. The reason the convenience fee is charged back to the customer who chooses to pay by credit card is because the entire amount of property taxes must be collected and distributed to the various entities we collect for in its entirety and therefore we cannot absorb a convenience fee. The Johnson County Tax Office does not retain any portion of the convenience fee.

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Q: When are quarterly payments due for Over-65 and Disabled Homestead payment agreements?
A: Property owners who have an Over-65 Homestead Exemption or a Disabled Exemption may pay their current taxes on their home in four installments. You must pay at least one-fourth of your taxes before February 1 (delinquency date).

You must indicate on your first payment that you are paying your taxes in installments.

The remaining payments are due before: April 1, June 1 and August 1 without penalty and interest. If you miss an installment payment, you will have a penalty (12%) and interest (1% each month delinquent) added to the installment amount.

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Q: What taxes are frozen with an Over-65 Homestead exemption?
A: When you receive an Over-65 Homestead Exemption or a Disabled Person Homestead Exemption, you also receive a “tax ceiling” for your school taxes; that is, the school taxes on your home do not increase as long as you own and live in that home. The school taxes are “frozen”.

The tax ceiling is set at the amount you pay in the year that you qualify for the exemption. The school taxes on your home may fall below the ceiling, but cannot rise above it unless you make an improvement to your home such as adding on a new room. Normal repairs or maintenance would not affect the ceiling.

Effective 2004, the county, city or junior college district also may freeze or limit your taxes by adopting a tax ceiling for either the Over-65 Homestead Exemption or the Disabled Person Exemption or Both. Johnson County and various cities throughout the county have passed these resolutions. The ceiling goes into effect after the unit adopts the limitation and you qualify your home for the Over-65 or Disability exemption.

If you already receive an Over-65 Homestead Exemption or a Disabled Person Homestead Exemption you do not need to do anything else to qualify once the resolution is passed.

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Q: What is a tax certificate, and how can I obtain one?
A: A tax certificate is a certified document showing all delinquent taxes and may include current taxes. If delinquent, the certificate shows penalties and interest that are due according to tax records. The fee to obtain a certificate is $10.00 per certificate; prepayment is required.

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Q: If I lease a vehicle that I use for personal purposes, do I have to pay property taxes on the vehicle?
A: In Texas, all property is taxable, unless exempt by state or federal law. Leased vehicles produce income for the leasing company and are taxable to the leasing company. In many leasing contracts, companies require their lessees to reimburse them for taxes assessed on the vehicles.

Texas does exempt leased vehicles that are not held for the primary purpose of income production by the lessee. These vehicles include passenger cars or trucks with a shipping weight of not more than 9,000 pounds and leased for personal use. Personal use would mean using the vehicle more than 50 percent of its use (based on mileage) for activities that do not involve the production of income. The exemption applies only to vehicles subject to a lease entered into on or after January 2, 2001. Any leased vehicles contracted before January 2, 2001 would continue to be taxed. In addition, cities that passed an ordinance before January 1, 2002, could opt to tax personal leased vehicles. The law was effective on January 1, 2002.

To qualify for the exemption, you must timely file an affidavit with the leasing company. You may print the Lessee's Affidavit of Primarily Non Income Producing Vehicle Use form now or it is available from the leasing company.

To receive the exemption, the leasing company must file a Lessor's Application for Personal Use Lease Automobile Exemptions application with the county appraisal district where the property is located before April 30 of each year. The exemption application should contain all vehicles that are used primarily for personal use. If the leasing company does not file the application timely, the vehicle is not exempt for that year.

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