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Texas Seniors Can Take Advantage of This Property Tax Program

December 10, 2016

 

Armond Paulson has lived in his Northwest Austin home for 20 years.

"We like the fact that this beautiful area has a greenbelt right down below," said Paulson.

 

 

Home prices here are soaring and that means property taxes are as well. That makes things tight, especially for seniors like Paulson who are on a fixed income.

 

 

"It becomes an issue of how much money you have to put away each month so at the end of the year you can pay what you owe," Paulson said.

But Paulson doesn't have to worry about that anymore. He took advantage of a state program to defer property taxes.

 

 

"I thought, this is too good to be true," he said.

We went to Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector Bruce Elfant to find out how it works.

 

 

"Property owners in Texas, if they're 65 or older, can choose to defer their taxes," Elfant said. "What that means is that they wouldn't have to pay their tax bills, although the tax bills still accrue at an 8 percent annual interest."

That amount must be paid when the homeowner leaves, or passes away.

 

It's a program that isn't right for everyone.

 

 

"It's really important to understand that the tax payment doesn't go away, it gets deferred," said Elfant. "For those who are 65 or older who want to defer their taxes, they really have to take into consideration where they want their home to go upon their death and the ability of the people who receive their home to take care of the taxes and the interest upon their death."

 

 

Right now, only 3,234 homeowners in Travis County use this program. Elfant says the county hasn't had to foreclose on any homes, but if more people enroll, it's something to watch.

 

 

"We want to make sure that going forward that we're able to collect 100 percent of the taxes owed upon homeowners' deaths and not have homes selling for less than the taxes owed are," Elfant said.

But for Paulson, this program is a choice that gives him and his wife one less bill to worry about.

 

 

"We could have probably stayed here had we not had the program, but I think it would have gotten increasingly difficult as property taxes went up here in Austin," Paulson said.

 

 

One thing to keep in mind before deferring your taxes is that many mortgage companies don't honor this program, so your house must be paid off. To learn more visit Travis County Tax Office Page  as well as your local Property Tax Office to see what they have to offer for you.

 

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