Paying Your Taxes
Taxing units usually mail their tax bills in October. Tax bills are due upon receipt and the delinquency date usually is Feb. 1. If Feb. 1 is drawing near and you have not 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. Failure to receive a tax bill does not affect the validity of the tax, penalty or interest due, the delinquency date, the existence of a tax lien or any procedure the taxing unit institutes to collect the tax.
Your tax bill may include taxes for more than one taxing unit if these taxing units have combined their collection operations. Both the property owner and the owner's designated agent must be mailed tax bills. If your mortgage company pays the property taxes on your home, the mortgage company will receive 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 has 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.
In most cases, the deadline for paying your property taxes is Jan. 31. Taxes that remain unpaid on Feb. 1 are considered delinquent. Penalty and interest charges are added to the original amount.
Taxing units must give you at least 21 days to pay after they mail your original bill. If your bill is mailed after Jan. 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. For example, if the taxing unit mails your tax bill on Jan. 15, your taxes will not become delinquent until March 1. The delinquency date will be printed on your bill.
Most property owners pay their property taxes before the year's end so they can deduct the payments from their federal income taxes.
If you appeal your value to district court, binding arbitration or the State Office of Administrative Hearings, you must pay your taxes - usually the amount that is not in dispute - before the delinquency date. You may ask the court to excuse you from prepaying your taxes by filing an oath of inability to pay the taxes in question and arguing 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.
You have no legal right to withhold taxes or to put taxes in escrow to protest government spending or for any other reason. You must express your concerns in taxing unit budget hearings. You may, however, make a payment under protest, indicating so on the check or in a transmittal letter.
- You will have penalty and interest charges added to your taxes.
If taxes go delinquent, the tax collector adds a six percent penalty and one percent interest on Feb. 1. Penalty continues to accrue at one percent per month until July 1. On July 1, the penalty becomes 12 percent. Interest will be charged at the rate of one percent per month, with no maximum. Private attorneys hired by taxing units to collect delinquent accounts can charge an additional penalty of up to 20 percent to cover their fees. If the delinquency date is postponed, penalties and interest begin accruing on the postponed delinquency date.
- You will receive delinquent tax notices.
The tax collector will send you at least one notice that your taxes are delinquent. They often send additional notices and warnings.
- You may have the option to set up an installment plan.
Some tax collectors will allow you to pay delinquent taxes in installments for up to 36 months. They are not required to offer this option except on a residence homestead.
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 be sued.
The tax collector’s last resort is to take a delinquent taxpayer to court. Court costs will be added to the delinquent tax bill.
Each person who owns taxable property on Jan. 1 is liable for all taxes due on the property for that year. A person who owned taxable property on Jan. 1 can be sued for delinquent taxes even if the property has been sold or transferred since then.
- You may face problems in selling your property.
Each taxing unit holds a tax lien on each item of taxable property. A tax lien automatically attaches to property on Jan. 1 each year to secure payment of all taxes. 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 then will be auctioned and the proceeds used to pay the taxes. As a result of the tax lien, someone who purchases real estate cannot obtain 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 will not be able to clear a tax lien against your part unless taxes on the whole are paid.
Tax Code Section 33.011 requires or allows taxing units to waive penalties and/or interest in specific circumstances. In most instances, however, you must pay the tax no later than the 21st day after you know or should have known of the delinquency and you must request the waiver before the 181st day after the delinquency date.
- An act or omission of the taxing unit, its agent or the appraisal district occurred.
A taxing unit is required to waive penalties and may waive interest on a delinquent tax if the taxing unit, its agent or the appraisal district caused your taxes to go delinquent.
- A religious organization acquires a delinquent property.
A taxing unit may waive penalties and interest if the delinquent tax is owed on a property acquired by a qualifying religious organization before the first anniversary of the delinquency date and the religious organization pays the tax.
- A taxpayer unsuccessfully attempts to timely pay by mail.
A taxing unit may waive penalties and interest if you attempted to pay the tax by mail prior to the delinquency date; you mailed the payment to an incorrect address that was correct the previous year; and it is within one year that the address ceased to be correct.
- A tax bill is returned undeliverable.
A taxing unit is required to waive penalties and interest if a tax bill is returned undelivered by the U.S. Postal Service; the taxing unit does not send you another bill at least 21 days before the delinquency date to the current mailing address; and you establish that you furnished the current mailing address to the appraisal district prior to Sept. 1.
A taxing unit is also required to waive penalties and interest if a tax bill is returned undelivered by the U.S. Postal Service because of an act or omission of the taxing unit, its agent or the appraisal district and the taxing unit or appraisal district did not send you another tax bill at least 21 days before the delinquency date to the correct address.
- Electronic funds transfer failed.
A taxing unit is required to waive penalties and interest on tax payable by electronic funds transfer if you attempted to pay it prior to the delinquency date and there was an error in transmission of the funds.
- The property was previously omitted or otherwise erroneously exempted from the appraisal roll.
A taxing unit is allowed to waive penalties and interest on a delinquent tax accrued by a prior owner if the delinquency is the result of taxes imposed because of a correction to your account because your property was previously omitted from the appraisal record; erroneously exempted from the appraisal roll; entered into the appraisal roll at an incorrect value; or listed on the appraisal roll under the wrong account number.
- A postmark or delivery date after the delinquency date is the fault of the carrier.
A taxing unit is allowed to waive penalties and interest if you submit evidence that you delivered payment before the delinquency date to the U.S. Postal Service, but an act or omission of the postal service resulted in your payment being postmarked after the delinquency date.
A taxing unit is allowed to waive penalties and interest if you submit evidence that you delivered payment before the delinquency date to a private delivery carrier, but an act or omission of the carrier resulted in your payment being received by the taxing unit after the delivery date.
- Military personnel serving on active duty during a war or national emergency.
Tax Code Section 31.02 allows eligible military personnel serving on active duty during a war or national emergency to pay delinquent property taxes on property in which the person owns an interest without paying additional penalty or accrued interest. The delinquent taxes become due 60 days after the earliest of the date the military member is discharged from active service; returns to the state for more than 10 days; returns to non-active duty status in the reserves; or the war or national emergency ends.