Laws vary from state to state, but property tax is often a locally assessed and locally administered tax (by counties)—and in those states there is no state property tax. Property tax brings in the most money of all taxes available to local government to pay for schools, roads, police and firemen, emergency response services, libraries, parks, and other services provided by local government.
Most states offer a variety of partial or total (absolute) exemptions from appraised property values used to determine local property taxes. A partial exemption removes a percentage or a fixed dollar amount of a property's value from taxation. A total (absolute) exemption excludes the entire property from taxation. Taxing units (government entities) may be required by the state to offer certain (mandatory) exemptions and have the option to decide locally on whether or not to offer others (local option).
Exemptions from property tax usually require the taxpayer to apply for the exemption. Applications for property tax exemptions are filed with appraisal districts, and deadlines may vary. Appraisal district chief appraisers are responsible for determining whether a property qualifies for an exemption.
Exemptions are usually located in a state’s tax code (statutes) and exemption requirements are often extensive. Property owners should read these statutes carefully.
Common exemptions are for properties that qualify as a residence homestead or are eligible for charitable, religious, or agricultural exemptions, as provided by the state’s tax laws. Disabled persons, senior citizens (age 65 or older), veterans, and surviving spouses of veterans who were killed in action (KIA) are also eligible for exemptions in some states.