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Here’s how seniors can defer property taxes, lower them or both

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Q. In Texas, senior citizens over the age of 65 can defer property taxes. Can you explain how this process works? Can it be applied to a house or another property? Can I stop it once it starts?

A. There are two ways people over the age of 65 can lower their property tax. One is to claim an exemption for homes over the age of 65, and the other is to postpone property taxes altogether.

Tax exemptions over 65 are in addition to regular home tax exemptions. You claim tax exemption by filling out the appropriate form in the county where you live. Form 11.13 in Harris County and Form 50-114 in Bexer County. These forms have a check box on the first page to apply for tax exemption.

If you secure a tax exemption of over 65, you will receive an additional tax exemption to calculate your home tax. In addition, once you qualify, your school taxes will not increase unless you improve your home.

You can also choose to postpone property taxes, including school tax, by submitting a tax deferral affidavit. The important thing is that the tax is not revoked or exempted, but instead the tax continues to be incurred. Unpaid taxes are subject to a statutory interest rate (currently 5%) each year. If you have lived for decades after claiming your deferred tax, the amount of interest on your deferred tax can significantly exceed your original tax. No taxes or interest will be paid as long as the homeowner or spouse occupies the home as a home.

Property tax can be deferred regardless of the value of the asset or the owner’s personal property.

To find the Harris County Tax Affidavit Form, go to the following URL: hcad.org, Search for Form 33-06. In Bexar County, bcad.org Search for Form 50-126.

Homestead waiver is only available for your homestead. This is the home you use and claim as your primary home. If you own another home, these properties are not subject to home tax exemption, tax exemption over age 65, or tax deferral.

You will never stop tax exemptions above 65, but you can stop tax deferrals at any time. In fact, if you have deferred tax, you can always pay refund tax and interest.

Q. I moved from Indiana to Texas three years ago. Will existing estate planning documents continue to be recognized or do I need to create a Texas-specific document? We have wills, trust in special needs for brothers-in-law with disabilities, the medical power of lawyers, and instructions to doctors.

A. The estate planning document needs to be changed to the Texas version of these forms.

The Indiana will is valid in Texas, but does not contain any specific Texas-specific language that streamlines the probate process. The other Indiana forms you mentioned are also valid, but they are different from the Texas version of those forms. That is, they may not be immediately acceptable if needed.

The information in this column is intended to provide a general understanding of the law, not legal advice. Ronald Lipman of the Houston law firm Lipman & Associates is accredited by the Texas Legal Committee on the Board of Asset Planning and Prosecution Law.Email your question

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