Qualifying residents in Bexar County will see a $15 decrease in their annual property tax bill after county commissioners Tuesday approved an across-the-board $5,000 homestead exemption.

The decrease will be the same regardless of whether a house is worth $100,000 or $1 million. Homeowners in Bexar County qualify for the reduction as long as they own and live in the house and file paperwork with the Bexar Appraisal District to claim it as their homestead.

Most taxing entities, including school districts and the City of San Antonio, already have a homestead exemption, noted Commissioner Marialyn Barnard (Pct. 3), who was appointed to the court in January to serve out Trish DeBerry’s remaining term.

“I was surprised … to find out we didn’t have it,” Barnard said. “While it seems like a little bit [of money], over the course of many years, that certainly adds up.”

Across the state, home values have increased between 10%-50% since last year, according to the Texas Association of Appraisal Districts.

Not only have appraised property values gone up — and therefore tax bills — the U.S. is seeing historic inflation, Barnard noted. “Every little bit helps, and it’s about time that we help the homeowners.”

Preliminary estimates show the county could see an additional $15 million in property tax revenue this year over last, thanks to increased home values. The homestead exemption means the county will forgo $6.5 million of that, Barnard said.

San Antonio implemented its first homestead exemption, the same $5,000 minimum allowed by the state, in 2020. The average homeowner saves an estimated $28 per year.

Those homestead exemptions are layered on top of one another if a home is located within San Antonio, Bexar County and other taxing entities’ jurisdictions.

Tax bills in San Antonio typically increase because of climbing property values or school district rate increases; city and county tax rates have held steady or even declined over the past several years. Credit: Courtesy / City of San Antonio

While the county can provide this relatively minor tax relief, public school districts make up the bulk of property tax bills, Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4) said.

School districts have higher tax burdens because the state won’t fully fund schools, Calvert said. “Ultimately it’s the legislature. They’re the ones who have the real power” to reduce property taxes.

Applications for exemptions must be submitted before May 1 to the Bexar Appraisal District, located at 411 N. Frio Street. Once a resident files for the exemption with the Bexar Appraisal District, the discounts of all applicable taxing entities are automatic.

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Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and mental health. Contact her at iris@sareport.org