The Williamson County Commissioners Court voted to extend the age 65 and older and disabled individuals property tax exemption as well as add an exemption for homeowners on May 25.

The move would increase the existing $30,000 tax exemption for residents age 65 and older to $90,000 and the $20,000 tax exemption for disabled residents to $75,000. The new homestead property tax exemption is set to 1.5% of assessed value or $5,000, whichever is greater.

This change to exemptions will have a $5.6 million tax impact on the county’s revenue, officials said.

These exemptions are only applied to county taxes, which make up a portion of an individual’s overall taxes. Other taxing entities include cities and school districts.

Individuals must apply for the exemption online through the Williamson Central Appraisal District website. The application process is free.

“I especially believe those that are age 65 or are reaching that threshold need to know that Williamson County is a place where they can retire and stay, and not a place where they have to retire and leave,” Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said.

By state law, homestead exemption must be tied to a percentage and a minimum of $5,000, county officials said. Williamson County homes valued at $333,000 or less will receive the $5,000 exemption. Homes valued greater than $333,000 will see the 1.5% option kick in, said Larry Gaddes, county tax assessor-collector.

Applying and extending tax exemptions is a more beneficial option for homeowners rather than an overall tax rate reduction because it applies only to a narrow number of properties rather than all taxes properties including commercial within the county, Gaddes said. He added that if the county went with a lower tax rate to achieve the same amount of reduction, it would have a miniscule impact on the average homeowner.

“If you are a homeowner, or even a business, you wouldn't even notice that [the county] did anything if [it] lowered the tax rate to have the same $5.6 million effect,” Gaddes said. “Adopting an exemption in my opinion, is [the] best targeted relief [the county] can provide.”

According to WCAD data, the county is expected to see a $14.6 billion year-over-year increase in overall taxable value, jumping from $1.93 billion in existing property value in 2020 to $10.92 billion in existing property value in 2021.

Residential home values and median prices of homes also continue to rise.

In order to qualify for the homestead exemption, individuals must live in the home as of Jan. 1, and it must be their permanent address with either a driver’s license or utility bill attached to the address, officials said.

Gaddes said a common misconception is that exemptions are a freeze on property values, which they are not. Instead, exemptions are a freeze on one's taxes. He added that individuals can qualify for both the homestead and either the 65 and up or disabled exemptions but not all three.