Paying Your Taxes
Taxing units usually mail their tax bills in October. The delinquency date is usually February 1. If February 1 is drawing near and you haven't received a tax bill, contact your local tax offices. Find out how much tax you owe and make sure your correct name and address are on record.
Your tax bill includes taxes for more than one taxing unit if some of these taxing units have combined their collection operations.
If your mortgage company pays the property taxes on your home, the mortgage company receives the tax bill.
The tax collector must give you a receipt for your tax payment if you ask for one. Receipts are useful for federal income tax purposes and for ensuring that your mortgage company paid the taxes on your home. In addition, your tax receipt is evidence that you paid the tax if a taxing unit sues you for delinquent taxes.
If you appeal your value to district court, you must pay your taxes, usually the amount that isn't in dispute before the delinquency date. You may ask the court to excuse you from prepaying your taxes. You must file an oath of inability to pay the taxes in question and argue that prepaying the taxes restrains your right to go to court on your protest. The court will hold a hearing and decide the terms or conditions of your payment.
How to Calculate Your Taxes And Who to Call
- Market Value (Appraisal district and ARB set values.)
- Exempt Value
- = Taxable Value
- x Rate per $100 Value (Taxing unit's governing body sets rate.)
- = Tax Amount (Taxing unit's collector gets payment.)
When is the deadline for paying?
In most cases, the deadline for paying property taxes is January 31. Taxes that are unpaid on February 1 are delinquent. Penalty and interest charges are added to the original amount.
However, taxing units must give you at least 21 days to pay after they mail your original bill. If your bill is mailed after January 10, the delinquency date is postponed. You have until the first day of the next month that will provide at least 21 days for paying the bill. So, if the taxing unit mails your tax bill on January 15, your taxes don't become delinquent until March 1. The delinquency date is on the bill.
Most property owners pay their property taxes before the end of the year so they can deduct the payments from their federal income taxes. If you haven't received a tax bill because the ARB is still reviewing a protest on your property, you may make a conditional tax payment. You must pay either last year's taxes on the property or the taxes due on the ARB order, whichever is less. Once the ARB sets a value, the tax collector sends you either a supplemental tax bill or a tax refund.
Check with the collection office on payment options that may be available, such as:
- Discounts if you pay your taxes early;
- Split payment of taxes allowing you to pay half your taxes by November 30 and the remainder by June 30 without any penalty;
- Partial payment of your taxes;
- Payment by credit card, with a fee of up to 5 percent; and
- Escrow agreements for a special year-round account.
You may defer some of your home taxes if you choose. The taxes deferred are those taxes for any value that exceeds 105 percent of your home's appraised value, plus any new improvements, from the preceding tax year. You must file a deferral application with the appraisal district before the taxes go delinquent, and you must pay the taxes based on 105 percent of the home's value.
If you are 65 or older and have applied for the homestead exemptions for senior citizens, you may pay your current taxes on your home in four installments. You must pay at least one-fourth of your taxes before February 1 (delinquency date). The remaining payments are due before April 1, June 1, and August 1, without any penalty or interest. If you miss an installment payment, you will have a penalty (12 percent) and also interest (at l percent for each month delinquent) added to the installment amount. You must indicate on your first payment that you are paying your home taxes in installments. Installment payments apply to all taxing units on the tax bill.
An over-65 homeowner may defer payment of the taxes. (See Age 65 or older homeowners subsection in the section Savings on Home Taxes.)
Homeowners who are disabled and apply for homestead exemptions also may pay their home taxes in installments. See the same steps above that an over-65 homeowner follows to pay in four installments.
Homeowners whose residences are damaged in a disaster and are located in a designated disaster area also may pay their taxes in four installments, in the same months as over-65 or disabled homeowners do.
What if you don't pay your taxes?
The longer you allow your delinquent property taxes to go unpaid, the more expensive and risky it becomes for you.
You have penalty and interest charges added to your taxes.
Regular penalty charges may be as high as 12 percent, depending on how long the tax remains unpaid. Interest is charged at the rate of 1 percent per month. There is no maximum amount of interest. Private attorneys hired by taxing units to collect delinquent accounts can charge up to an additional 15-percent penalty to cover their fees.
You get delinquent tax notices.
The tax collector sends you at least one notice that your taxes are delinquent. Tax collectors often send additional notices and warnings.
You may have the option to set up an installment plan.
Some tax collectors allow you to pay delinquent taxes in installments for up to 36 months. A tax collector isn't required to offer this option.
Before signing an installment agreement, you should know that the law considers your signature an irrevocable admission that you owe all the taxes covered by the agreement.
You may have a delinquent tax lawsuit.
The tax collector's last resort is taking a delinquent taxpayer to court. Court costs will be added to the delinquent tax bill.
Each person who owns taxable property on January 1 is liable for all taxes due on the property for that year. A person who owned taxable property on January 1 can be sued personally for delinquent taxes, even if the property has been sold or transferred since then.
You may have problems selling your property.
Each taxing unit holds a tax lien on each item of taxable property. This tax lien gives the courts the power to foreclose on the lien and seize the property, even if its ownership has changed. The property will then be auctioned, and the proceeds used to pay the taxes.
As a result of the tax lien, someone who purchases real estate can't get a clear title until all the delinquent taxes owed on the property are paid in full. If you are buying a portion of a larger parcel of land, check the taxes on the larger parcel. You won't be able to clear a tax lien against your part unless taxes on the whole are paid.