AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Travis Central Appraisal District normally says the process to get an exemption on your property taxes can take up to 90 days. Data obtained by KXAN shows nearly half of the applications for reduced property taxes took longer to be processed.

Peggy McArthur, who has lived in the same north Austin home for 42 years, had her exemptions removed when she took her recently deceased husband’s name off her deed. It is a common practice in Texas appraisal districts when a deed is changed, according to TCAD.

McArthur said she applied again and waited more than six months before the agency granted her senior and homestead exemptions.

“It was causing a lot of anxiety because, you know, seniors, we are on a fixed income,” McArthur said. “I couldn’t afford not to get my exemptions.”

A spokesperson for TCAD said the agency received more exemption applications in the first six months of 2022 than it did in all of 2021. Data obtained by KXAN shows of the nearly 32,000 applications it received, nearly half – 14,257 – were not processed in a timely manner.

More than 5,000 of the applications that took longer than 90 days to process were due to either missing evidence, duplicate applications or an error in the application, according to TCAD.

The office said as of Oct. 14, about 380 applications were still pending.

The increased interest in exemptions comes at a time when the office is experiencing serious staffing issues. A TCAD spokesperson said the office has been at 50% capacity for its customer service department for most of 2022.

The agency said McArthur’s application was missing important information and took longer because staff spent more time researching the situation. McArthur disputes it was a user error. She said she went to the office in person to fill the form out.

“I was just so frustrated,” McArthur said.

TCAD officials would not agree to an interview but said in an emailed statement, “While the deadline to file an application was May 2, property owners who have submitted their completed applications and included all required documentation at least 90 days in advance are expected to see those exemptions reflected in their 2022 property tax bills.”

The office said it wants property owners to file their exemption applications online to expedite the process.