Property Tax Abatements & Exemptions

Value Limitation & Tax Credits

The Texas Economic Development Act, Tax Code Chapter 313, is intended to encourage large-scale manufacturing, research and development, and other investment projects to the State of Texas. It requires companies to invest a specified amount of money to qualify for an 8-year reduction in property taxes (as long as the local school district elects to participate). The qualifying investment amount is determined on a sliding scale that begins at $100 million for large urban areas and is reduced for areas with a lower tax base.

An appraised value limitation is an agreement in which a taxpayer agrees to build or install property and create jobs in exchange for an 8-year limitation on the taxable property value for school district maintenance and operations tax (M&O) purposes and a tax credit.

To qualify, the property must be in a reinvestment zone or enterprise zone and must be devoted to manufacturing, research and development, a clean coal project, an advanced clean energy project, renewable energy electric generation, electric power generation using integrated gasification combined cycle technology, nuclear electric power generation, or a computer center used primarily in connection to one of the other categories.

Additional information on this incentive is provided by the Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Property Tax Abatement Agreements

A property tax abatement is a local agreement between a taxpayer and a taxing unit that exempts all or part of the increase in the value of the real property and/or tangible personal property from taxation for a period not to exceed 10 years. Tax abatements are an economic development tool available to cities, counties and special districts to attract new industries and to encourage the retention and development of existing businesses through property tax exemptions or reductions. School districts may not enter into abatement agreements. The statutes governing tax abatements are located in Texas Tax Code Chapter 312. Each taxing unit that wants to consider tax abatement proposals must designate a reinvestment zone or an enterprise zone.

Chapter 380/381 Financing

Chapters 380 and 381 of the Local Government Code provide legislative authority for Texas municipalities and counties to provide a grant or a loan of city or county funds or services in order to promote economic development. Local governments have utilized the provisions under this law to provide a wide array of incentives that have drawn businesses and industries to locales throughout Texas. Whether a local government provides any such incentive is completely discretionary. A city or county may provide a Chapter 380 or 381 grant in the form of a sales or property tax rebate.

Reinvestment Zones

The designation of specified areas as "reinvestment zones" is a local economic development tool used by municipalities and counties throughout the state of Texas. Reinvestment zones have been used to stimulate local economies by attracting new companies and encouraging the growth of existing businesses. These zones can be created for the purpose of granting local businesses ad valorem property tax abatements on a portion of the value of real and/or tangible personal property located in the zone, for a period of up to 10 years.

Special taxation entities having jurisdiction over a reinvestment zone may participate in executed abatement agreements; however, the special taxing districts may not designate reinvestment zones or initiate tax abatement agreements. Reinvestment zones are designated by local ordinance or resolution. Incorporated cities, counties and special districts are allowed to enter into tax abatement agreements. However, school districts no longer possess this ability.

The Comptroller of Public Accounts has responsibility for the state's central registry of reinvestment zones for tax abatements and tax increment financing. The 2016 biennial report indicates active reinvestment zones in six communities in three area counties (Austin, Georgetown, Kyle, Leander, Pflugerville and Taylor).

Freeport Exemption

A community may choose to offer the freeport exemption for various types of goods that are detained in Texas for a short period of time. Freeport property includes goods, wares, merchandise, ores, and certain aircraft and aircraft parts. Freeport property qualifies for an exemption from ad valorem taxation only if it has been detained in the state for 175 days or less for the purpose of assembly, storage, manufacturing, processing, or fabricating. For certain aircraft parts, a community, by official action, may extend the deadline to 730 days. Freeport exemptions in the Austin area are noted in the “Local Incentive Programs” section below. A freeport exemptions map is also located on the Chamber’s website.

Pollution Control Equipment

A Texas constitutional amendment providing an exemption from property taxation for pollution control equipment was approved in 1993. The intent was to ensure that compliance with environmental mandates through capital investments did not result in an increase in a facility's property taxes. A facility must first receive a determination from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that property is for pollution control purposes. That positive use determination is then provided to the local appraisal district, which must accept the TCEQ's decision and grant the property an exemption from property taxes.

To be eligible for a positive use determination, the property must have been purchased, acquired, constructed, installed, replaced, or reconstructed after January 1,1994 to meet or exceed federal, state, or local environmental laws, rules, or regulations.

Solar or Wind-Powered Energy Devices

The Texas property tax code allows an exemption of the amount of the appraised property value that arises from the installation or construction of a solar or wind-powered energy device that is primarily for the production and distribution of thermal, mechanical, or electrical energy for on-site use, or devices used to store that energy. The Texas Comptroller publishes guidelines for the solar and wind-powered energy device exemption.