This news from Harris County is just one example: Harris Co. Taxpayers Urged to Pay Property Taxes or Face Lawsuit
Jack Nelson, CEO of Propel Financial Services, the largest property tax financing company in the state, has some helpful tips for those who receive a letter about their delinquent property taxes:
Homeowners: Don't Ignore your Property Taxes
Thousands of Texas homeowners delinquent on this year's property taxes recently began receiving letters stating that their taxes are late and the amount they owe has risen sharply. Tax assessors have tacked on up to 40 percent to bills that have been delinquent since February.
"The property owner is already delinquent six months and is struggling with their tax payment," Nelson said. "To add to their problems, the county has now turned over delinquent accounts to an outside firm to collect the debt. The letters can lead to lawsuits, which can eventually lead to foreclosure action. All the while, costs are building on top of the homeowner's property taxes."
Nelson advises homeowners that they have options for responding to a letter regarding delinquent taxes.
First and foremost -- if at all possible -- pay the amount in full, including late fees, penalties, and interest. Many delinquent taxpayers don't have the means to pay the entire bill in one chunk, but there are alternatives, including working out a payment plan with the tax assessor-collector or using a property tax financing company to get the bill paid.
All counties offer payment plans, which may work for certain property owners. While paying down the current tax bill, it's important for taxpayers also to save for next year's tax bill, and to stay current on their payment plans in order to avoid default. Default can lead to the tax assessor-collector turning the account over to an outside collection firm, incurring steep additional costs.
A credible property tax financing company is another alternative, and in many cases can provide a better and more flexible deal than the county. Such companies will satisfy your obligation to the tax assessor-collector and can provide a payment plan of up to 10 years to repay the bill. Look for a well-known and financially stable property tax financing company that has been around for at least several years and will provide you with a reasonable interest rate (often below credit card rates or the county's interest rate). They will coach you through the process until you are back on your feet financially and help you avoid additional expenses due to unpaid property taxes.
"There are several good property tax financing companies in Texas," Nelson said, "and they really work to help their customers through a tough financial time so that they can keep their home. That's the kind of support you need to get past a serious property tax problem."