A series of new measures San Antonio and Bexar County approved to provide property tax relief for 2022 require a homestead exemption that the Tax Assessor-Collector’s office is urging residents to apply for this month.

A homestead exemption allows homeowners who live in their home to reduce its taxable value, with some exemptions available only to seniors or disabled people.

Different taxing entities offer different exemptions, but all of those exemptions require the homeowner to have an homestead exemption application on file with the Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector’s office.

Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector Albert Uresti says he’s accepting applications until July 25 that will apply to 2022 property tax bills — even though the deadline was technically in April.

“We still have a lot of families that don’t have the residential exemption. … I can’t tell you how that just breaks my heart,” said Uresti.

As of January 2022, he estimates there are more than 90,000 properties that qualify but don’t have an exemption on file.

The city and county’s efforts to help homeowners come as home values in Bexar County continue to increase rapidly, causing tax bills to skyrocket. 

“We need to help keep families in their homes,” said Uresti.

Last month Bexar County Commissioners Court approved a 20% homestead exemption for the county’s portion of a resident’s property tax bill.

The City of San Antonio increased the homestead exemption for its portion of a resident’s tax bill from .05% or a minimum of $5,000, up to 10% for 2022 property tax assessments. For a house assessed at $300,000, the 2022 city and county homestead exemption would be worth about $347.48, versus $28.62 in 2021.

The city also increased exemptions for people age 65 and older and people who are fully disabled — from $65,000 to $85,000 — if they’ve applied for and received a homestead exemption. The Bexar County Hospital District increased its 65 and older exemption from $10,000 to $30,000.

Uresti said that on a $300,000 home, that means someone age 65 or over would see a savings of $575.40 from the combined city and hospital district exemptions in 2022, versus $390.50 in 2021.

That’s in addition to the $347.48 savings from the city and county homestead exemptions, which are factored in before the 65-and-up or disabled exemptions.

“Without [applying for the homestead exemption], you’re not going to be entitled to most of these benefits,” said Uresti.

“People have to get the residential homestead exemption first and foremost, and then the other exemptions will fall into place,” he added.

To get the basic homestead exemption, homeowners need to fill out this form and submit it to the county tax office. Once a homestead exemption is approved, it applies to all taxing entities the home is subject to, including the state, county, city, school districts, hospital district and others.

Uresti said he’s urging potential applicants to call the tax assessor-collector’s office or come by in person if they need help filling out the application form.

It can be downloaded and submitted via email, or printed and mailed in or submitted in person. To qualify, the address on the homestead application must match the address on the homeowner’s driver’s license or Texas ID.

If a new applicant is approved for an exemption they were qualified for in previous years, Uresti said they’ll even receive the savings retroactively for up to two years.

“Let’s say you’ve been living in your home for five years, but you’ve never had a residential homestead exemption,” said Uresti. “You can get the one for this year for the 2022 taxes, and we can also get you the one for 2021 or for 2020. So we would actually send you a refund.”

Andrea Drusch writes about local government for the San Antonio Report. She's covered politics in Washington, D.C., and Texas for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, National Journal and Politico.