During a June 8 meeting, Houston City Council approved an ordinance that increases the property tax exemption from $160,000 to $260,000 for city residents who are age 65 or older and certain residents with disabilities. The increase is applied to the appraised value of a resident's homestead and will go into effect for the 2022 tax year—for tax bills that go out in October—as well as for future years.

For tax purposes, a disabled resident means someone who either “can't engage in gainful work because of physical or mental disability” or someone who is 55 years or older and blind, and is unable to work because of blindness, according to the Harris County Appraisal District’s website.

As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, homesteads are defined as “generally the house and land used as the homeowner’s principal residence on Jan. 1 of the tax year.” An exemption allows a homeowner to reduce the appraised value of a home when calculating how much money is owed on that home in property taxes.

For example, the new exemption allows a 65-year-old homeowner with a home valued at $300,000 to exempt $260,000 of the home's value, paying city taxes only on the remaining $40,000. Additional value can be exempted using the city's general homestead exemption.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said this ordinance will help keep the city affordable for those who qualify.

“As property value rises, the tax exemption will certainly help,” Turner said.

According to at-large Council Member Sallie Alcorn, Houston now has the highest exemption than any other local jurisdiction for the two qualifying groups of homeowners. Citing information from her staff, Alcorn said the new exemptions could save the owner of a $300,000 around $440 in city taxes.

“This is a great move and will provide necessary relief to our taxpayers,” Alcorn said.

Applications for tax exemptions can be found here.