In the next several weeks, home owners will be receiving their property tax bills. New homeowners, before you flip out and go all anti-government, remember that unless you chose to waive escrows at closing (which usually will cost you an added fee) your mortgage company has been collecting an extra amount every month along with your regular principal and interest payments.
Taxes are paid at the end of the year so they will escrow your tax (and property insurance) money every month and they will pay it for you. If there is a remaining balance because they estimated too much, it will either roll-over into the next year or they'll refund and start afresh. If you've escrowed property taxes and received a bill, just forward it to your mortgage company and THEY will pay it. Those who have waived escrows or who have no mortgage will have to pay the bill on their own.
Remember to file your Homestead Exemptions at the County Appraisal District! This will deduct several thousand off of your taxed amount saving you a nice chunk of change. DO NOT hire those people that send you a letter offering to do it for you. This may as well be a scam. The homestead exemption is a one page document that takes approximately three minutes to fill out. The service just prays on people's lack of knowledge and they assume it's a hefty paperwork process. It's not. Go here to see the forms:
Travis County: Homestead Exemption Form (PDF)
Williamson County: Homestead Exemption Form (PDF)
I hope this message is getting out to my first-time home buyers before they show up at my door with pitch forks and torches thinking that I failed to inform them of a massive cost around every bank account-draining Christmas. I wouldn't do you like that! I'm your friendliest friend and wisdom provider.