Homestead tax exemptions increased, expanded for Wacoans

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 9:51 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Amid rising property tax values, tax breaks are coming for certain homeowners in Waco.

Tuesday night, the Waco City Council approved an emergency ordinance for bigger homestead tax exemptions.

“We’re looking out for all Wacoans here,” said Jim Holmes, Waco City Councilman for Dist. 5.

Many Wacoans are looking at higher than normal property tax increases for 2022.

According to the McLennan County Appraisal District, the market value is projected to jump by about 25 percent.

As a result, some council members are making it known: keeping Waco affordable is a priority.

“My constituents are concerned about rising home values, and particularly the retired homeowners on fixed income,” said Holmes.

Those constituents are in luck.

Tuesday night’s ordinance approval increases the homestead property tax exemption from $5,000 to $50,000 for those 65 or older, and from 10 percent to 15 percent for residential homeowners.

It also creates a $50,000 homestead exemption for the disabled.

Although a vote of this kind would not normally come before the annual city tax rate is decided, it had a July 1 deadline.

“For the homestead exemption, state law requires that it be approved before July 1,” said Nick Sarpy, Director of Office of Budget Management for the City of Waco. “You have to approve it before you receive the final rolls because the final rolls aren’t due until July 25.”

Under the ordinance, the average homestead property owner will save $75 a year, a homestead property owner 65 or older will save $420 a year, and a disabled homestead property owner will save $459 a year, according to city officials.

However, the move is going to leave the city $5,000,000 short.

“Our expenses are going to go up in our 2023 budget and we’ll be needing to make some service level decisions, we’re going to be making capital improvement decisions, maybe elongating some of those programs, but I’m happy to see we’ve calculated this exemption,” said Holmes.

Holmes says when they do enter into budget talks, they’re hoping to look out for renters, too, by lowering property rates for commercial businesses.

“As we get those figures in on the final tax base, it will be interesting to see what we can do for the commercial businesses, too,” said Holmes.

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