When Is Your Tax Bill Due?
To gauge how long can you go without paying property taxes, you have to start with this question. If you’ve been living in Texas for a while now, you know property taxes are due around the same time every year. But let’s review the relevant deadline dates for those who might be new to the area. For most jurisdictions, property taxes are due by January 31. Taxes must be paid by that date, so on February 1, all unpaid taxes are seen as delinquent. In some cases, taxing authorities will honor a January postmark, but it’s best not to take the chance.
According to the Texas Comptroller’s Office, taxing units are required to give property owners at least 21 days after their original tax bills are mailed to pay the amount due. If your tax bill is not mailed out until after January 10, your delinquency date will get pushed out. For instance, if the bill goes out on January 20, you won’t get that 21-day window to pay by the 31st. In this case, the new delinquency date would be March 1.
What Happens Once You Fall Behind on Your Property Taxes?
Once your Texas property taxes are late, you’ll incur a 6% penalty and start to accrue 1% in interest on the past due amount. This means that February 1st you have incurred a 7% hit. From March 1 to July 1, the penalty and interest will continue to increase monthly at 2%. On July 1, the penalty, fees and interest jumps to 22%, having accrued a substantial collections fee. From July through December, you’ll also be charged 1% in monthly interest.
Most taxing authorities enlist the help of attorney’s offices to collect past due taxes. When that happens, you typically see a penalty of at least 20% on your bill to cover legal expenses and court costs. This is where that large July spike in fees comes from. It is common for a single property to receive collection bills from multiple law firms: County, ISD, Utility Districts, etc. Taxing districts may allow property owners to set up installment plans. However, keep in mind that this is not a mandatory option unless a homestead exemption is involved. Even then, you can expect to pay a sizeable down payment and the annual interest rate typically runs at 12%.
If your tax bill is way behind, the taxing district might sue as a last attempt to collect the delinquent amount. If this happens, the court costs will be added to the outstanding amount. And don’t think that you’ll be off the hook for your property taxes when you sell your commercial or residential space. If you owned the property on January 1, you can still be held liable for the amount due, regardless of whether or not the property has been transferred or sold.
How Far Behind In Property Taxes Can You Get Before Foreclosure?
In Texas, the foreclosure process can start at any time. The process can be completed in about 60 days if the foreclosure is uncontested. As we covered in How to Get Rid of Property Tax Liens in Texas, a lien is a local, state or federal government’s legal claim against your property when your taxes aren’t paid. If the lien is not satisfied within a reasonable amount of time, the lienholder has the right to foreclose on the property. The period in which this occurs can range from 60 days to more than 120 days. It all depends on the taxing authority and local market conditions.
So, How Long Can Property Taxes Go Unpaid in Texas?
In simple terms, there is no magic window. The longer you wait to settle your delinquent property taxes, the closer you get to substantial fees, penalties and even foreclosure. Don’t let any of that become an option. If you need help managing your taxes, Tax Ease can assist you.