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Tax Bills & Delinquent Taxes

Texas property tax penalties for late payment are large and it is difficult to obtain a waiver. Texas taxpayers need to carefully monitor and review the tax bills which need to be paid for each property they own. The law does provide limited latitude for having late payments if the appraisal district or the tax entity makes an error which leads to the late payment. However, many tax entities are reluctant to waive penalties and interest, even though they have made obvious errors. Timely payment of Texas property taxes is the best way to avoid penalties. This document was prepared by the Texas Comptroller and is presented for your convenience

Tax Bills: Q&A

If I hire O’Connor, what do I have to do?

We will ask you to provide us with your property objectives during a free consultation. The whole process only takes five to 10 minutes.

Who is O’Connor – and how can you reduce my property taxes?

O’Connor is the largest property tax consulting firm in the U.S. O’Connor’s team of professionals possess the resources and unparalleled market expertise in areas of property tax, cost segregation and appraisal for commercial and residential real estate.

For the 2015 tax year, the firm lowered assessed value by more than $1.6 billion, resulting in estimated tax savings of around $44 million* on behalf of its residential and commercial clients. Already increasing in 2016, the firm has filed more than $2 billion and 185,000+ protests of assessed value*.

*Based on average tax rate of 2.7 percent.

How are my tax savings calculated?

For the tax year in question, subtract the property’s final assessed value (after the protest hearing) from its initial noticed value. Then, multiply the difference by the previous year’s total tax rate. The resulting number equals the amount of tax savings.

For example, if the initial assessed value is $100,000 and the final assessed value achieved by O’Connor is $90,000, and your tax rate is 3 percent, property taxes saved are $300.

Is there a fee if you don’t reduce my taxes?

There are no fees whatsoever if we do not reduce your taxes. We will not send you an invoice unless we reduce your property taxes.

How are fees billed for current and future years?

If we reduce your taxes, the fee is applicable for the protested year only. Your contract will remain in effect until you cancel it. We will continue protesting each year and send you a bill only if we reduce your property assessment for that year. You may cancel the agreement at any time.

Can my taxes go up?

There is a chance, but an increase is very rare. Normally, property taxes are only raised once every 10,000 property tax protest hearings, usually because of extenuating circumstances

When is the deadline to protest my property value?

In Texas, the deadline to protest property values is May 31, or 30 days after the appraisal district sends notice of the assessed value – whichever is later. The appraisal district is required to send notice if the assessed value is increased by more than $1,000 from the prior year’s value. In most cases, the deadline in Texas is May 31. If the 31st falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the deadline is the following business day.

Should I hire you or should I do it myself?

The advantage of hiring O’Connor is that you have full-time, experienced professionals armed with vast databases and a high-level understanding of the property tax protest process. However, we encourage you to protest your taxes either through us or as an individual – it’s your right to do so!

When do the new tax rates come out?

Tax rates for most tax entities in Texas are set in November of the current year just before the tax bills are issued. In some cases, the tax rates are set at a later date.

If I have an appeal pending do I have to pay my taxes?

Yes. To avoid penalties and interest, all taxes must be paid by the delinquency date. You will receive a refund if an appeal is later settled in your favor.

Will someone come out to inspect my property?

This is unlikely, due to counties handling thousands of protests each year. An O’Connor consultant may need to inspect your property, but only in rare circumstances.

I have not heard about binding arbitration. Please explain it.

The property owner files a request for binding arbitration within 45 days after receiving official notice of the appraisal review board’s decision. The property owner completes a form, remits payment of a $500 deposit and lists a requested value. The appraisal district forwards the request for binding arbitration to the Comptroller. The Texas Comptroller facilitates selection of an arbitrator who holds a binding arbitration hearing. There is an exchange of evidence prior to the hearing. Both the property owner and the appraisal district have an option to present evidence at the hearing. The arbitrator will make a final decision regarding the assessed value for the year. If the value is less than the value set by the appraisal review board, the assessed value for property taxes will be reduced. The assessed value for property taxes will not be increased as a result of the binding arbitration hearing. The Comptroller retains $50 for facilitating the binding arbitration process. If the arbitrator selects a number closer to the property owner’s value, the appraisal district pays for the cost of the binding arbitration and the property owner receives a refund of $450 from the deposit. If the value selected by the arbitrator is closer to the appraisal district’s value, the property owner does not receive a refund of any portion of the deposit. If the value is less than the value set by the appraisal review board, the value is reduced.

What are the benefits of an over 65 homestead exemption?

The most significant benefit is it freezes your current level of school property taxes. In addition, it typically provides additional exemptions for property taxes.

How do I know O’Connor is reputable? What about credibility?

Since 1974, O’Connor has been highly respected in the real estate field. Our team includes licensed Senior Property Tax Consultants, and we are frequently featured authors and experts in national media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today and National Real Estate Investor magazine. Patrick O’Connor is the author of Cut Your Texas Property Taxes, a book that empowers individuals to challenge the appraisal district to reduce assessed property value.

What if the county has my square footage listed incorrectly?

You may request the county appraisal district do a field check on the subject property.

I bought my home in a previous tax year and forgot to file a homestead exemption. Is it too late to claim a homestead exemption for the current tax year and obtain a refund?

You can still obtain a homestead exemption for 2006 provided the request is filed by Jan. 31, 2008 (1 year after the delinquency data for the taxes).

The appraisal district has inaccurate information regarding the size of my home. Can I get a refund for prior years?

It depends on the amount of the error. You can certainly correct it for the current year and you can likely correct it for the past four years.

I forgot to file a property tax protest by May 31. However, my property is assessed at twice its actual market value. Is there anything I can do?

Yes. You can file a substantial error correction appeal (2525d) provided it is filed by the tax delinquency date. This is typically Jan. 31 of the following year.

I’m 75 years old. I just sold my prior home and purchased a new home. There was a deep discount for school taxes at the old home, but there is no discount for school taxes at the new home. Is the over 65 homestead exemption portable?

Yes.

Is it worth filing for a homestead exemption?

Yes, it typically reduces your property taxes by about 20 percent.

I appealed my property taxes last year, and my value did not change. However, my value still seems high compared to the value of neighboring properties. Can I protest this year?

You can protest your property taxes each year regardless of whether the tax assessment changes. Each year, you can protest market value and unequal appraisal.

I protested my property taxes including attending the appraisal review board (ARB) hearing. However, I still believe the market value for my property is much less than the assessed value set by the appraisal review board. What are my options?

You can file a judicial appeal or a request for binding arbitration. For most homes, the request for binding arbitration is a more effective and economical option.

Appealing my property taxes seems very complicated. How do I get started?

O’Connor will need to file your property tax appeals prior to May 31 with the appraisal review board. At the same time the property tax protest is filed with the appraisal review board, we send a request to the appraisal district for the information they will present at the hearing. This typically includes information regarding your property, comparable sales the appraisal district plans to present and information on unequal appraisal. Our team then checks the information regarding your property for accuracy. We review the comparable sales data provided by the appraisal district. In many cases, some of the comparable sales will support a value lower than your assessed value. We will document any deferred maintenance at your property.

Why have the appraisal districts become so much more aggressive in increasing property taxes during the last three to five years?

The Texas Comptroller has told many appraisal districts their values are substantially below market value and need to be increased. If the appraisal districts do not increase the values to a level acceptable to the Texas Comptroller, the school districts can lose a part of their school funding to the state due to Robin Hood school funding provisions.

I never received my notice of assessed value in the mail. Therefore, I did not protest. However, my assessed value increased sharply. Are there any options to appeal?

Yes. You can appeal under failure to receive notice, section 41.411 of the Texas Property Tax Code

I did not receive the notice for my property tax hearing. The appraisal district says they mailed it and there is nothing they can do. Do I have any recourse?

Yes. You can appeal under failure to receive notice, section 41.411 of the Texas Property Tax Code.

I bought a house three years ago. However, the appraisal district still only values my property as a vacant lot even though they have given me a homestead exemption. What should I do? Am I legally required to tell them they have not assessed my property?

You are not legally required to tell them they have not assessed your property. However, they can tax you for omitted property for the current year and four prior years. If you do not correct the error, you need to be prepared to pay the current year’s taxes and taxes for prior years.

My parents died last year and gave me their house. The property taxes are very low because of the over 65 tax exemption and the low school taxes which occurred 20 years ago. The appraisal district has not changed ownership for the property even though a deed was filed at the courthouse. Should I just pay the lower level of taxes?

It is highly likely the appraisal district will discover the error at some point. If they do, they will assess you the taxes for the difference between what you paid and what you should have paid. You are probably better off correcting the error with the appraisal district.

I run a small business. I have business personal property worth several thousand dollars. However, the appraisal district committed a gross error and estimated the value of my personal property at ten times it’s reasonable value. I ignored the issue given the gross error. Now a law firm is suing me for more than $20,000 in taxes, penalties and interest. How can I fix this mistake?

It is probably not possible to remedy the error at this point unless the appraisal district assessed you for property that does not exist. For example, if they assessed you for $90,000 of inventory and you do not have any inventory, you can probably get this part of the valuation stricken using a correction protest. However, property owners are well advised to monitor property tax assessments on an annual basis. It is very difficult to correct errors for prior years.

Do I, as a homeowner, get a tax break from property taxes?

You may apply for homestead exemptions on your principal residence. Homestead exemptions remove part of your home’s value from taxation so they lower taxes. For example, your home is appraised at $50,000, and you qualify for a $15,000 exemption, you will pay taxes on the home as if it was worth only $35,000.

Do all homes qualify for homestead exemptions?

No, only a homeowner’s principal residence qualifies. To qualify, a home must meet the definition of a residence homestead: The home’s owner must be an individual (for example: not a corporation or other business entity) and use the home as his or her principal residence on Jan. 1 of the tax year. If you are age 65 or older, the Jan. 1 ownership and residency are not required for the age 65 homestead exemption.

What is a homestead?

A homestead can be a separate structure, condominium or a mobile home located on owned or leased land, as long as the individual living in the home owns it. A homestead can include up to 20 acres, if the land is used as a yard or for another purpose related to the residential use of the homestead.

How do I get a homestead exemption?

You must file an Application for Residential Homestead Exemption with the county appraisal district between Jan. 1 and April 30 of the tax year – up to 2 years after you pay your taxes. During the year, if you turn 65 or become disabled, you must apply for the 65 or older or disabled exemption no later than 2 years from the qualification date. Once you receive the exemption, you do not need to reapply unless the chief appraiser sends you a new application. In that case, you must file the new application. If you should move or your qualifications end, you must inform the appraisal district in writing before the next May 1. A list of appraisal district addresses and phone numbers is available online. Here is a list of over 100 Texas appraisal districts’ information.

What homestead exemptions are available?

There are several types of exemptions you may receive.

  • School taxes: All residence homestead owners may receive a $15,000 homestead exemption from their home’s value for school taxes.
  • County taxes: If a county collects a special tax for farm-to-market roads or flood control, a residence homestead owner may receive a $3,000 exemption for this tax. If the county grants an optional exemption for homeowners age 65 or older or disabled, the owners will receive only the local-option exemption.
  • Age 65 or older and disabled exemptions: Over 65 and/or disabled residence homestead owners may qualify for a $10,000 homestead exemption for school taxes, in addition to the $15,000 exemption for all homeowners. If the owner qualifies for both the $10,000 for over 65 homeowners and the $10,000 exemption for disabled homeowners, the owner must choose one or the other for school taxes. The owner cannot receive both exemptions.
  • Optional percentage exemptions: Any taxing unit – including a city, county, school or special district – may offer an exemption of up to 20 percent of a home’s value. But, no matter what the percentage is, the amount of an optional exemption cannot be less than $5,000. Each taxing unit decides if it will offer the exemption and at what percentage. This percentage exemption is added to any other home exemption for which an owner qualifies. The taxing unit must decide before July 1 of the tax year to offer this exemption.
  • Optional over 65 or disabled exemptions: Any taxing unit may offer an additional exemption of at least $3,000 for taxpayers age 65 or older and/or disabled.

How do I qualify for a disabled person’s exemption?

You are eligible for this exemption if you can’t engage in gainful work because of a physical or mental disability or you are 55 years old and blind and can’t engage in your previous work because of the blindness. To qualify, you must meet the Social Security definition for disabled. You qualify if you receive disability benefits under the federal Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Program administered by the Social Security Administration. Disability benefits from any other program do not automatically qualify you. To prove your eligibility, you may need to provide the appraisal district with information on disability ratings from the civil service, retirement programs or from insurance documents, military records or a doctor’s statement.

What if I miss the deadline for filing for a homestead exemption?

You may file for a homestead exemption up to one year after the delinquency date – usually Feb. 1. If you are 65 or older or disabled, you must apply for the exemption no later than one year from your 65th birthday or one year after the delinquency date, whichever is later.

Effective September 1, 2017, property owners have up to two years after the delinquency date to file for a homestead exemption.

May I continue to receive the residence homestead exemption on my home if I temporary move away?

If you temporarily move away from your home, you may continue to receive the exemption if you do not establish a principal residence elsewhere, you intend to return to the home and you are away less than two years. You may continue to receive the exemption if you do not occupy the residence for more than two years, only if you are in military service or live in a facility providing services related to health, infirmity or aging from the two-year period.

What is a homestead tax ceiling?

It is a limit on the amount of taxes you must pay on your residence. If you qualify your home for a 65 and older or disabled person homestead exemption for school taxes, the school taxes on that home can’t increase as long as you own and live in that home. The tax ceiling is the amount you pay in the year that you qualified for the 65 and older or disabled person exemption. The school taxes on your home may go below the ceiling but not above the amount of the ceiling. If you improve the home (other than normal repairs or maintenance), the tax ceiling may go higher for the new additions. For example, if you add on a garage or game room to the house, the tax ceiling will be adjusted to a higher level for the addition.

Does the school tax ceiling transfer when a person who is age 65 or older or is disabled or is the surviving spouse (age 55 or older) of a person who was age 65 or older moves to another home?

A percentage of the school tax ceiling may be transferred.
The ceiling on the new home would be calculated to give you the same percentage of tax paid as the ceiling on the original home. For example, if you currently have a tax ceiling of $100, but would pay $400 without the ceiling, the percentage of tax paid is 25 percent. If you move to another home and the taxes on the new homestead would normally be $1,000 in the first year, the new tax ceiling would be $250 or 25 percent of $1,000.

To transfer the school tax ceiling, you may request a certificate from the chief appraiser in the last appraisal district in which you received the tax ceiling. You present the transfer certificate to the chief appraiser in the district where the new home is located, when you apply for homestead exemptions on the new home.

If I am the surviving spouse of a disabled person, am I entitled to the school tax ceiling?

No, only surviving spouses (55 years of age or older) of persons who were 65 years of age or older when they died may benefit from the tax ceiling.

If I am 65 years of age or older, disabled, or a surviving spouse who is age 55 or older, does a tax ceiling apply to county, city or junior college district property taxes?

Yes, if the county commissioners court, city council or board of the junior college district authorizes a tax limitation on the homesteads of persons 65 years of age or older or disabled persons. The taxing unit’s governing bodies or voters (by petition and election) may adopt the limitation. This local option exemption does not apply to other special districts, such as water, hospital, etc.

Can the local option ceiling transfer if the owner who is age 65 or older or disabled moves to another home?

Yes, but the home must be located within the applicable taxing unit – city, county or junior college district. The ceiling on the new home is calculated the same as the school district.

Can the local option ceiling transfer to another home owned by the surviving spouse who is 55 year of age or older?

No, regardless of the underlying qualifications (65 and older or disabled person).

If I own only 50 percent of the home I live in, do I qualify for the residence homestead exemption on the home?

Yes. However, if you qualify for a homestead exemption and are not the sole owner of the property to which the homestead exemption applies, the exemption you receive is based on the interest you own. For example, you own a 50 percent interest in a homestead and will receive one half or $7,500, of a $15,000 homestead offered by a school district.

Is the disabled veteran’s exemption the same as the disabled person’s exemption?

No. To receive a disabled veteran exemption, you must either be a veteran who was disabled while serving with the U.S. armed forces or the surviving spouse or child (under 18 years of age and unmarried) of a disabled veteran or of a member of the armed forces who was killed while on active duty.

In order to qualify for a disabled person exemption, you can’t engage in gainful work because of physical or mental disability or you are 55 years old and blind and can’t engage in your previous work because of your blindness. If you receive disability benefits under the federal Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Program administered by the Social Security Administration, you will qualify for the disabled person exemption.

What is the amount of the disabled veteran’s exemption?

The exemption amount that a qualified disabled veteran receives depends on the veteran’s disability rating from the branch of the armed service:

Disability Rating Exemption Amount 10% to 30% $5,000 from the property’s value 31% to 50% $7,500 from the property’s value 51% to 70% $10,000 from the property’s value 71% to 100% $12,000 from the property’s value

The disabled veteran must be a Texas resident and must choose one property to receive the exemption for all property tax purposes.

May I file for a disabled veteran’s exemption after the deadline has passed?

Yes. The deadline for filing for a disabled veteran’s exemption is between Jan. 1 and April 30 of the tax year. However, you may file for a disabled veteran’s exemption up to one year from the delinquency date. To file for a disabled veteran’s exemption, you must complete the Application for Disabled Veteran’s or Survivor’s Exemptions form.

If I lease a vehicle that I use for personal purposes, do I have to pay property taxes on the vehicle?

In Texas, all property is taxable, unless exempt by state or federal law. Leased vehicles produce income for the leasing company and are taxable to the leasing company. In many leasing contracts, companies require their lessees to reimburse them for taxes assessed on the vehicles.

Texas does exempt leased vehicles that are not held for the primary purpose of income production by the lessee. These vehicles include passenger cars or trucks with a shipping weight of not more than 9,000 pounds and leased for personal use. Personal use would mean using the vehicle more than 50 percent of its use (based on mileage) for activities that do not involve the production of income. The exemption applies only to vehicles subject to a lease entered on or after Jan. 2, 2001. Any leased vehicles contracted before Jan. 2, 2001 would continue to be taxed. In addition, cities that passed an ordinance before Jan. 1, 2002, could opt to tax personal leased vehicles. The law was effective on Jan. 1, 2002.

To qualify for the exemption, you must timely file an affidavit with the leasing company. You may print the Lessee’s Affidavit of Primarily Non Income Producing Vehicle Use form now or it is available from the leasing company.

To receive the exemption, the leasing company must file a Lessor’s Application for Personal Use Lease Automobile Exemptions application with the county appraisal district where the property is located before April 30 of each year. The exemption application should contain all vehicles that are used primarily for personal use. If the leasing company does not file the application timely, the vehicle is not exempt for that year.

If a religious or charitable organization purchases property during the year, may the organization receive an exemption on the new property for that year?

Yes. The religious or charitable organization may receive a property tax exemption upon ownership and qualification after Jan. 1. The organization must file for the exemption on property acquired after Jan. 1 within one year of acquiring the property.

When do taxing units mail tax bills?

Taxing units usually mail their bills around Oct. 1.

May I pay only part of the taxes due?

State law allows taxing units, at their option, to authorize tax collectors to accept one-half of a taxpayer’s taxes by Nov. 30 and the remainder by June 30 without paying penalty and interest. Not all taxing units offer this option.

Tax collectors may also choose to collect partial payments, payments by credit card or escrow payments. Such payments do not forestall any penalty and interest on the unpaid portions.

But, I’m on a limited income because I’m disabled or elderly. Is there a special payment plan for age 65 or older or disabled persons?

A homeowner that qualifies for the age 65 or disabled exemption may pay current taxes on his or her home in four installments. The person must pay at least one-fourth of the taxes before Feb. 1. With this payment, the homeowner indicates that taxes are being paid in installments. The remaining payments are due before April 1, June 1 and Aug. 1 – without any penalty and interest. If the person misses an installment payment, a 6 percent penalty and also interest (at 1 percent for each month delinquent) is added to the installment amount.

What is the deadline for paying taxes without penalty and interest?

The deadline to pay is Jan. 31. The tax collector will add penalty and interest charges to taxes that are unpaid on Feb. 1. In rare instances, a taxpayer may have a delinquency date later than Feb. 1 – check with your tax office.

What is the amount of penalty and interest?

If taxes go delinquent, the tax collector adds a 6 percent penalty and 1 percent interest in February. Penalty continues to accrue at 1 percent per month until July 1. On July 1, the penalty is 12 percent. Interest continues to accrue at 1 percent per month until paid. For example, on July 1, unpaid taxes would have accrued a total of 18 percent penalty and interest (12 percent penalty and 6 percent interest).

To this amount, a taxing unit also may add a penalty of up to 20 percent for attorney fees.

Can a taxing unit waive penalty and interest due on delinquent taxes?

State law requires a taxing unit’s governing body to waive penalty and may waive interest on a delinquent tax if the taxing unit or its agent caused an owner’s taxes to go delinquent. The property owner must pay the tax no later than the 21st day after he or she knows or should have known of the delinquency. The property owner must request the waiver before the 181st day (six months) after the delinquency to receive a refund of the penalty and interest.

If I serve in the armed forces, may a taxing unit waive penalty and interest due on delinquent taxes?

State law allows you to request a waiver of penalty and interest on your delinquent taxes if you are in the United States armed forces during a war or national emergency declared in accordance with federal laws. To receive the waiver, you should file a Military Property Owner’s Request for Waiver of Delinquent Penalty and Interest form within 60 days from the earliest date of the following events: (1) discharge from the active military service; (2) return to the state for more than 10 days; (3) return to non-active duty status in the reserves; or (4) the war or national emergency ends.

When can the additional penalty for attorney fees be added?

Taxes that become delinquent on or after Feb. 1, but no later than May 1, and remain delinquent on July 1 of the tax year incur the additional penalty for attorney fees of up to 15 percent. The taxing unit must contract with an attorney to collect delinquent taxes. The tax collector must mail the delinquent taxpayer a notice that the additional penalty will be added July 1. The collector sends the notice no earlier than 30 and no more than 60 days from July 1 – during the month of May. The attorney will pursue collection of the taxes through legal proceedings, if necessary.

Also, the collector that has a contract with an attorney may add the 15 percent penalty to taxes that become delinquent on or after June 1. The delinquent taxes include those under the split payment option, installment payments for over 65 or disabled persons, or taxes on late mailed bills that have a later delinquency date than Feb. 1. The penalty attaches the first day of the first month that begins at least 21 days after the date a notice of delinquency and penalty is sent to the property owner.

If I didn’t receive a tax bill, don’t I get more time to pay without penalty and interest?

No. State law provides that failing to send or receive a tax bill does not affect the validity of the tax, penalty or interest due by an individual, the tax’s delinquency date, the existence of a tax lien or any procedure the taxing unit institutes to collect the tax. Property owners know that property taxes are due each year and should check if they do not receive a tax bill.

You may want to check with your mortgage company to determine if your taxes were paid timely.

If I’m elderly or disabled and can’t pay my taxes, will the taxing units sell my house and put me on the street for not paying my taxes?

If you are 65 or older or disabled, you may defer or postpone paying any current or delinquent property taxes on your home for as long as you own and live in it. To postpone tax payments, you must file a tax deferral affidavit with the appraisal district. You may suspend any lawsuit by filing an affidavit with the court. Or, you may suspend a pending sale to foreclose on the homestead’s tax lien, if you file for the abatement up to five days before the date of the sale. The deferral is for all delinquent property taxes owed taxing units that tax the home.

A tax deferral only postpones paying taxes. It doesn’t cancel them. Interest is added at the rate of 8 percent a year. Once the owner no longer owns the home or lives in it, past taxes and interest become due. Any penalty and interest that was due on the tax bill for the home before the tax deferral will remain on the property and also become due when the tax deferral ends. After the tax deferral ends and the taxes remain unpaid, the taxing units may add attorney fees on the 181st day after the deferral and pursue tax collections, past taxes and interest become due. Any penalty and interest that was due on the tax bill for the home before the tax deferral will remain on the property and due when the tax deferral ends. After the tax deferral ends and the taxes remain unpaid, the taxing units may add attorney fees on the 91st day after the deferral and pursue tax collections.

Your surviving spouse age 55 or older may continue to receive the tax deferral if the surviving spouse owns and lives in the home.

May a property owner pay a portion of delinquent taxes?

Some tax collectors allow delinquent property owners 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 the taxpayer’s signature an irrevocable admission that you owe all the taxes covered by the agreement.

When can a taxing unit file a delinquent tax suit?

A taxing unit may file a lawsuit at any time once taxes on a property go delinquent. The taxing unit’s last resort is taking a delinquent property owner to court. If a delinquent tax suit is successful, the court costs will be added to the delinquent tax bill. Each owner who owns taxable property on Jan. 1 is liable for all taxes due on the property for that year. This means that an owner who owned taxable property on Jan. 1 can be sued personally for delinquent taxes on a property, even if the property has been sold or transferred since then.

Each taxing unit holds a tax lien on each item of taxable property. This tax lien gives the court 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.

Contact your local taxing unit to discuss the specifics of your tax situation.

May I defer my taxes if a taxing unit has filed a suit in district court for failure to pay taxes on my property?

Yes. You may “abate,” the delinquent taxes if a taxing unit has filed a suit in district court for foreclosure purposes. If a judgment was rendered, you still may abate the taxes; however, you must do so five days prior to the tax sale.

Can a property owner whose property was sold at an auction get that property back?

Yes. A person can redeem the foreclosed property within six months after the purchaser’s deed is filed for record. The old owner must pay the new owner the purchase bid for the property, plus recording fees, amount of any taxes, penalties, interest and costs on the property, plus 25 percent of the aggregate total. If the property was a residence homestead or land designated agricultural use when the lawsuit was filed, the old owner may redeem the property within two years from the date the deed was recorded. The first year includes 25 percent of the aggregate total; the second year is at 50 percent of the total.

Delinquent Taxes: Q&A

If I hire O’Connor, what do I have to do?

We will ask you to provide us with your property objectives during a free consultation. The whole process only takes five to 10 minutes.

Who is O’Connor – and how can you reduce my property taxes?

O’Connor is the largest property tax consulting firm in the U.S. O’Connor’s team of professionals possess the resources and unparalleled market expertise in areas of property tax, cost segregation and appraisal for commercial and residential real estate.

For the 2015 tax year, the firm lowered assessed value by more than $1.6 billion, resulting in estimated tax savings of around $44 million* on behalf of its residential and commercial clients. Already increasing in 2016, the firm has filed more than $2 billion and 185,000+ protests of assessed value*.

*Based on average tax rate of 2.7 percent.

How are my tax savings calculated?

For the tax year in question, subtract the property’s final assessed value (after the protest hearing) from its initial noticed value. Then, multiply the difference by the previous year’s total tax rate. The resulting number equals the amount of tax savings.

For example, if the initial assessed value is $100,000 and the final assessed value achieved by O’Connor is $90,000, and your tax rate is 3 percent, property taxes saved are $300.

Is there a fee if you don’t reduce my taxes?

There are no fees whatsoever if we do not reduce your taxes. We will not send you an invoice unless we reduce your property taxes.

How are fees billed for current and future years?

If we reduce your taxes, the fee is applicable for the protested year only. Your contract will remain in effect until you cancel it. We will continue protesting each year and send you a bill only if we reduce your property assessment for that year. You may cancel the agreement at any time.

Can my taxes go up?

There is a chance, but an increase is very rare. Normally, property taxes are only raised once every 10,000 property tax protest hearings, usually because of extenuating circumstances

When is the deadline to protest my property value?

In Texas, the deadline to protest property values is May 31, or 30 days after the appraisal district sends notice of the assessed value – whichever is later. The appraisal district is required to send notice if the assessed value is increased by more than $1,000 from the prior year’s value. In most cases, the deadline in Texas is May 31. If the 31st falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the deadline is the following business day.

Should I hire you or should I do it myself?

The advantage of hiring O’Connor is that you have full-time, experienced professionals armed with vast databases and a high-level understanding of the property tax protest process. However, we encourage you to protest your taxes either through us or as an individual – it’s your right to do so!

When do the new tax rates come out?

Tax rates for most tax entities in Texas are set in November of the current year just before the tax bills are issued. In some cases, the tax rates are set at a later date.

If I have an appeal pending do I have to pay my taxes?

Yes. To avoid penalties and interest, all taxes must be paid by the delinquency date. You will receive a refund if an appeal is later settled in your favor.

Will someone come out to inspect my property?

This is unlikely, due to counties handling thousands of protests each year. An O’Connor consultant may need to inspect your property, but only in rare circumstances.

I have not heard about binding arbitration. Please explain it.

The property owner files a request for binding arbitration within 45 days after receiving official notice of the appraisal review board’s decision. The property owner completes a form, remits payment of a $500 deposit and lists a requested value. The appraisal district forwards the request for binding arbitration to the Comptroller. The Texas Comptroller facilitates selection of an arbitrator who holds a binding arbitration hearing. There is an exchange of evidence prior to the hearing. Both the property owner and the appraisal district have an option to present evidence at the hearing. The arbitrator will make a final decision regarding the assessed value for the year. If the value is less than the value set by the appraisal review board, the assessed value for property taxes will be reduced. The assessed value for property taxes will not be increased as a result of the binding arbitration hearing. The Comptroller retains $50 for facilitating the binding arbitration process. If the arbitrator selects a number closer to the property owner’s value, the appraisal district pays for the cost of the binding arbitration and the property owner receives a refund of $450 from the deposit. If the value selected by the arbitrator is closer to the appraisal district’s value, the property owner does not receive a refund of any portion of the deposit. If the value is less than the value set by the appraisal review board, the value is reduced.

What are the benefits of an over 65 homestead exemption?

The most significant benefit is it freezes your current level of school property taxes. In addition, it typically provides additional exemptions for property taxes.

How do I know O’Connor is reputable? What about credibility?

Since 1974, O’Connor has been highly respected in the real estate field. Our team includes licensed Senior Property Tax Consultants, and we are frequently featured authors and experts in national media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today and National Real Estate Investor magazine. Patrick O’Connor is the author of Cut Your Texas Property Taxes, a book that empowers individuals to challenge the appraisal district to reduce assessed property value.

What if the county has my square footage listed incorrectly?

You may request the county appraisal district do a field check on the subject property.

I bought my home in a previous tax year and forgot to file a homestead exemption. Is it too late to claim a homestead exemption for the current tax year and obtain a refund?

You can still obtain a homestead exemption for 2006 provided the request is filed by Jan. 31, 2008 (1 year after the delinquency data for the taxes).

The appraisal district has inaccurate information regarding the size of my home. Can I get a refund for prior years?

It depends on the amount of the error. You can certainly correct it for the current year and you can likely correct it for the past four years.

I forgot to file a property tax protest by May 31. However, my property is assessed at twice its actual market value. Is there anything I can do?

Yes. You can file a substantial error correction appeal (2525d) provided it is filed by the tax delinquency date. This is typically Jan. 31 of the following year.

I’m 75 years old. I just sold my prior home and purchased a new home. There was a deep discount for school taxes at the old home, but there is no discount for school taxes at the new home. Is the over 65 homestead exemption portable?

Yes.

Is it worth filing for a homestead exemption?

Yes, it typically reduces your property taxes by about 20 percent.

I appealed my property taxes last year, and my value did not change. However, my value still seems high compared to the value of neighboring properties. Can I protest this year?

You can protest your property taxes each year regardless of whether the tax assessment changes. Each year, you can protest market value and unequal appraisal.

I protested my property taxes including attending the appraisal review board (ARB) hearing. However, I still believe the market value for my property is much less than the assessed value set by the appraisal review board. What are my options?

You can file a judicial appeal or a request for binding arbitration. For most homes, the request for binding arbitration is a more effective and economical option.

Appealing my property taxes seems very complicated. How do I get started?

O’Connor will need to file your property tax appeals prior to May 31 with the appraisal review board. At the same time the property tax protest is filed with the appraisal review board, we send a request to the appraisal district for the information they will present at the hearing. This typically includes information regarding your property, comparable sales the appraisal district plans to present and information on unequal appraisal. Our team then checks the information regarding your property for accuracy. We review the comparable sales data provided by the appraisal district. In many cases, some of the comparable sales will support a value lower than your assessed value. We will document any deferred maintenance at your property.

Why have the appraisal districts become so much more aggressive in increasing property taxes during the last three to five years?

The Texas Comptroller has told many appraisal districts their values are substantially below market value and need to be increased. If the appraisal districts do not increase the values to a level acceptable to the Texas Comptroller, the school districts can lose a part of their school funding to the state due to Robin Hood school funding provisions.

I never received my notice of assessed value in the mail. Therefore, I did not protest. However, my assessed value increased sharply. Are there any options to appeal?

Yes. You can appeal under failure to receive notice, section 41.411 of the Texas Property Tax Code

I did not receive the notice for my property tax hearing. The appraisal district says they mailed it and there is nothing they can do. Do I have any recourse?

Yes. You can appeal under failure to receive notice, section 41.411 of the Texas Property Tax Code.

I bought a house three years ago. However, the appraisal district still only values my property as a vacant lot even though they have given me a homestead exemption. What should I do? Am I legally required to tell them they have not assessed my property?

You are not legally required to tell them they have not assessed your property. However, they can tax you for omitted property for the current year and four prior years. If you do not correct the error, you need to be prepared to pay the current year’s taxes and taxes for prior years.

My parents died last year and gave me their house. The property taxes are very low because of the over 65 tax exemption and the low school taxes which occurred 20 years ago. The appraisal district has not changed ownership for the property even though a deed was filed at the courthouse. Should I just pay the lower level of taxes?

It is highly likely the appraisal district will discover the error at some point. If they do, they will assess you the taxes for the difference between what you paid and what you should have paid. You are probably better off correcting the error with the appraisal district.

I run a small business. I have business personal property worth several thousand dollars. However, the appraisal district committed a gross error and estimated the value of my personal property at ten times it’s reasonable value. I ignored the issue given the gross error. Now a law firm is suing me for more than $20,000 in taxes, penalties and interest. How can I fix this mistake?

It is probably not possible to remedy the error at this point unless the appraisal district assessed you for property that does not exist. For example, if they assessed you for $90,000 of inventory and you do not have any inventory, you can probably get this part of the valuation stricken using a correction protest. However, property owners are well advised to monitor property tax assessments on an annual basis. It is very difficult to correct errors for prior years.

Do I, as a homeowner, get a tax break from property taxes?

You may apply for homestead exemptions on your principal residence. Homestead exemptions remove part of your home’s value from taxation so they lower taxes. For example, your home is appraised at $50,000, and you qualify for a $15,000 exemption, you will pay taxes on the home as if it was worth only $35,000.

Do all homes qualify for homestead exemptions?

No, only a homeowner’s principal residence qualifies. To qualify, a home must meet the definition of a residence homestead: The home’s owner must be an individual (for example: not a corporation or other business entity) and use the home as his or her principal residence on Jan. 1 of the tax year. If you are age 65 or older, the Jan. 1 ownership and residency are not required for the age 65 homestead exemption.

What is a homestead?

A homestead can be a separate structure, condominium or a mobile home located on owned or leased land, as long as the individual living in the home owns it. A homestead can include up to 20 acres, if the land is used as a yard or for another purpose related to the residential use of the homestead.

How do I get a homestead exemption?

You must file an Application for Residential Homestead Exemption with the county appraisal district between Jan. 1 and April 30 of the tax year – up to 2 years after you pay your taxes. During the year, if you turn 65 or become disabled, you must apply for the 65 or older or disabled exemption no later than 2 years from the qualification date. Once you receive the exemption, you do not need to reapply unless the chief appraiser sends you a new application. In that case, you must file the new application. If you should move or your qualifications end, you must inform the appraisal district in writing before the next May 1. A list of appraisal district addresses and phone numbers is available online. Here is a list of over 100 Texas appraisal districts’ information.

What homestead exemptions are available?

There are several types of exemptions you may receive.

  • School taxes: All residence homestead owners may receive a $15,000 homestead exemption from their home’s value for school taxes.
  • County taxes: If a county collects a special tax for farm-to-market roads or flood control, a residence homestead owner may receive a $3,000 exemption for this tax. If the county grants an optional exemption for homeowners age 65 or older or disabled, the owners will receive only the local-option exemption.
  • Age 65 or older and disabled exemptions: Over 65 and/or disabled residence homestead owners may qualify for a $10,000 homestead exemption for school taxes, in addition to the $15,000 exemption for all homeowners. If the owner qualifies for both the $10,000 for over 65 homeowners and the $10,000 exemption for disabled homeowners, the owner must choose one or the other for school taxes. The owner cannot receive both exemptions.
  • Optional percentage exemptions: Any taxing unit – including a city, county, school or special district – may offer an exemption of up to 20 percent of a home’s value. But, no matter what the percentage is, the amount of an optional exemption cannot be less than $5,000. Each taxing unit decides if it will offer the exemption and at what percentage. This percentage exemption is added to any other home exemption for which an owner qualifies. The taxing unit must decide before July 1 of the tax year to offer this exemption.
  • Optional over 65 or disabled exemptions: Any taxing unit may offer an additional exemption of at least $3,000 for taxpayers age 65 or older and/or disabled.

How do I qualify for a disabled person’s exemption?

You are eligible for this exemption if you can’t engage in gainful work because of a physical or mental disability or you are 55 years old and blind and can’t engage in your previous work because of the blindness. To qualify, you must meet the Social Security definition for disabled. You qualify if you receive disability benefits under the federal Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Program administered by the Social Security Administration. Disability benefits from any other program do not automatically qualify you. To prove your eligibility, you may need to provide the appraisal district with information on disability ratings from the civil service, retirement programs or from insurance documents, military records or a doctor’s statement.

What if I miss the deadline for filing for a homestead exemption?

You may file for a homestead exemption up to one year after the delinquency date – usually Feb. 1. If you are 65 or older or disabled, you must apply for the exemption no later than one year from your 65th birthday or one year after the delinquency date, whichever is later.

Effective September 1, 2017, property owners have up to two years after the delinquency date to file for a homestead exemption.

May I continue to receive the residence homestead exemption on my home if I temporary move away?

If you temporarily move away from your home, you may continue to receive the exemption if you do not establish a principal residence elsewhere, you intend to return to the home and you are away less than two years. You may continue to receive the exemption if you do not occupy the residence for more than two years, only if you are in military service or live in a facility providing services related to health, infirmity or aging from the two-year period.

What is a homestead tax ceiling?

It is a limit on the amount of taxes you must pay on your residence. If you qualify your home for a 65 and older or disabled person homestead exemption for school taxes, the school taxes on that home can’t increase as long as you own and live in that home. The tax ceiling is the amount you pay in the year that you qualified for the 65 and older or disabled person exemption. The school taxes on your home may go below the ceiling but not above the amount of the ceiling. If you improve the home (other than normal repairs or maintenance), the tax ceiling may go higher for the new additions. For example, if you add on a garage or game room to the house, the tax ceiling will be adjusted to a higher level for the addition.

Does the school tax ceiling transfer when a person who is age 65 or older or is disabled or is the surviving spouse (age 55 or older) of a person who was age 65 or older moves to another home?

A percentage of the school tax ceiling may be transferred.
The ceiling on the new home would be calculated to give you the same percentage of tax paid as the ceiling on the original home. For example, if you currently have a tax ceiling of $100, but would pay $400 without the ceiling, the percentage of tax paid is 25 percent. If you move to another home and the taxes on the new homestead would normally be $1,000 in the first year, the new tax ceiling would be $250 or 25 percent of $1,000.

To transfer the school tax ceiling, you may request a certificate from the chief appraiser in the last appraisal district in which you received the tax ceiling. You present the transfer certificate to the chief appraiser in the district where the new home is located, when you apply for homestead exemptions on the new home.

If I am the surviving spouse of a disabled person, am I entitled to the school tax ceiling?

No, only surviving spouses (55 years of age or older) of persons who were 65 years of age or older when they died may benefit from the tax ceiling.

If I am 65 years of age or older, disabled, or a surviving spouse who is age 55 or older, does a tax ceiling apply to county, city or junior college district property taxes?

Yes, if the county commissioners court, city council or board of the junior college district authorizes a tax limitation on the homesteads of persons 65 years of age or older or disabled persons. The taxing unit’s governing bodies or voters (by petition and election) may adopt the limitation. This local option exemption does not apply to other special districts, such as water, hospital, etc.

Can the local option ceiling transfer if the owner who is age 65 or older or disabled moves to another home?

Yes, but the home must be located within the applicable taxing unit – city, county or junior college district. The ceiling on the new home is calculated the same as the school district.

Can the local option ceiling transfer to another home owned by the surviving spouse who is 55 year of age or older?

No, regardless of the underlying qualifications (65 and older or disabled person).

If I own only 50 percent of the home I live in, do I qualify for the residence homestead exemption on the home?

Yes. However, if you qualify for a homestead exemption and are not the sole owner of the property to which the homestead exemption applies, the exemption you receive is based on the interest you own. For example, you own a 50 percent interest in a homestead and will receive one half or $7,500, of a $15,000 homestead offered by a school district.

Is the disabled veteran’s exemption the same as the disabled person’s exemption?

No. To receive a disabled veteran exemption, you must either be a veteran who was disabled while serving with the U.S. armed forces or the surviving spouse or child (under 18 years of age and unmarried) of a disabled veteran or of a member of the armed forces who was killed while on active duty.

In order to qualify for a disabled person exemption, you can’t engage in gainful work because of physical or mental disability or you are 55 years old and blind and can’t engage in your previous work because of your blindness. If you receive disability benefits under the federal Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Program administered by the Social Security Administration, you will qualify for the disabled person exemption.

What is the amount of the disabled veteran’s exemption?

The exemption amount that a qualified disabled veteran receives depends on the veteran’s disability rating from the branch of the armed service:

Disability Rating Exemption Amount 10% to 30% $5,000 from the property’s value 31% to 50% $7,500 from the property’s value 51% to 70% $10,000 from the property’s value 71% to 100% $12,000 from the property’s value

The disabled veteran must be a Texas resident and must choose one property to receive the exemption for all property tax purposes.

May I file for a disabled veteran’s exemption after the deadline has passed?

Yes. The deadline for filing for a disabled veteran’s exemption is between Jan. 1 and April 30 of the tax year. However, you may file for a disabled veteran’s exemption up to one year from the delinquency date. To file for a disabled veteran’s exemption, you must complete the Application for Disabled Veteran’s or Survivor’s Exemptions form.

If I lease a vehicle that I use for personal purposes, do I have to pay property taxes on the vehicle?

In Texas, all property is taxable, unless exempt by state or federal law. Leased vehicles produce income for the leasing company and are taxable to the leasing company. In many leasing contracts, companies require their lessees to reimburse them for taxes assessed on the vehicles.

Texas does exempt leased vehicles that are not held for the primary purpose of income production by the lessee. These vehicles include passenger cars or trucks with a shipping weight of not more than 9,000 pounds and leased for personal use. Personal use would mean using the vehicle more than 50 percent of its use (based on mileage) for activities that do not involve the production of income. The exemption applies only to vehicles subject to a lease entered on or after Jan. 2, 2001. Any leased vehicles contracted before Jan. 2, 2001 would continue to be taxed. In addition, cities that passed an ordinance before Jan. 1, 2002, could opt to tax personal leased vehicles. The law was effective on Jan. 1, 2002.

To qualify for the exemption, you must timely file an affidavit with the leasing company. You may print the Lessee’s Affidavit of Primarily Non Income Producing Vehicle Use form now or it is available from the leasing company.

To receive the exemption, the leasing company must file a Lessor’s Application for Personal Use Lease Automobile Exemptions application with the county appraisal district where the property is located before April 30 of each year. The exemption application should contain all vehicles that are used primarily for personal use. If the leasing company does not file the application timely, the vehicle is not exempt for that year.

If a religious or charitable organization purchases property during the year, may the organization receive an exemption on the new property for that year?

Yes. The religious or charitable organization may receive a property tax exemption upon ownership and qualification after Jan. 1. The organization must file for the exemption on property acquired after Jan. 1 within one year of acquiring the property.

When do taxing units mail tax bills?

Taxing units usually mail their bills around Oct. 1.

May I pay only part of the taxes due?

State law allows taxing units, at their option, to authorize tax collectors to accept one-half of a taxpayer’s taxes by Nov. 30 and the remainder by June 30 without paying penalty and interest. Not all taxing units offer this option.

Tax collectors may also choose to collect partial payments, payments by credit card or escrow payments. Such payments do not forestall any penalty and interest on the unpaid portions.

But, I’m on a limited income because I’m disabled or elderly. Is there a special payment plan for age 65 or older or disabled persons?

A homeowner that qualifies for the age 65 or disabled exemption may pay current taxes on his or her home in four installments. The person must pay at least one-fourth of the taxes before Feb. 1. With this payment, the homeowner indicates that taxes are being paid in installments. The remaining payments are due before April 1, June 1 and Aug. 1 – without any penalty and interest. If the person misses an installment payment, a 6 percent penalty and also interest (at 1 percent for each month delinquent) is added to the installment amount.

What is the deadline for paying taxes without penalty and interest?

The deadline to pay is Jan. 31. The tax collector will add penalty and interest charges to taxes that are unpaid on Feb. 1. In rare instances, a taxpayer may have a delinquency date later than Feb. 1 – check with your tax office.

What is the amount of penalty and interest?

If taxes go delinquent, the tax collector adds a 6 percent penalty and 1 percent interest in February. Penalty continues to accrue at 1 percent per month until July 1. On July 1, the penalty is 12 percent. Interest continues to accrue at 1 percent per month until paid. For example, on July 1, unpaid taxes would have accrued a total of 18 percent penalty and interest (12 percent penalty and 6 percent interest).

To this amount, a taxing unit also may add a penalty of up to 20 percent for attorney fees.

Can a taxing unit waive penalty and interest due on delinquent taxes?

State law requires a taxing unit’s governing body to waive penalty and may waive interest on a delinquent tax if the taxing unit or its agent caused an owner’s taxes to go delinquent. The property owner must pay the tax no later than the 21st day after he or she knows or should have known of the delinquency. The property owner must request the waiver before the 181st day (six months) after the delinquency to receive a refund of the penalty and interest.

If I serve in the armed forces, may a taxing unit waive penalty and interest due on delinquent taxes?

State law allows you to request a waiver of penalty and interest on your delinquent taxes if you are in the United States armed forces during a war or national emergency declared in accordance with federal laws. To receive the waiver, you should file a Military Property Owner’s Request for Waiver of Delinquent Penalty and Interest form within 60 days from the earliest date of the following events: (1) discharge from the active military service; (2) return to the state for more than 10 days; (3) return to non-active duty status in the reserves; or (4) the war or national emergency ends.

When can the additional penalty for attorney fees be added?

Taxes that become delinquent on or after Feb. 1, but no later than May 1, and remain delinquent on July 1 of the tax year incur the additional penalty for attorney fees of up to 15 percent. The taxing unit must contract with an attorney to collect delinquent taxes. The tax collector must mail the delinquent taxpayer a notice that the additional penalty will be added July 1. The collector sends the notice no earlier than 30 and no more than 60 days from July 1 – during the month of May. The attorney will pursue collection of the taxes through legal proceedings, if necessary.

Also, the collector that has a contract with an attorney may add the 15 percent penalty to taxes that become delinquent on or after June 1. The delinquent taxes include those under the split payment option, installment payments for over 65 or disabled persons, or taxes on late mailed bills that have a later delinquency date than Feb. 1. The penalty attaches the first day of the first month that begins at least 21 days after the date a notice of delinquency and penalty is sent to the property owner.

If I didn’t receive a tax bill, don’t I get more time to pay without penalty and interest?

No. State law provides that failing to send or receive a tax bill does not affect the validity of the tax, penalty or interest due by an individual, the tax’s delinquency date, the existence of a tax lien or any procedure the taxing unit institutes to collect the tax. Property owners know that property taxes are due each year and should check if they do not receive a tax bill.

You may want to check with your mortgage company to determine if your taxes were paid timely.

If I’m elderly or disabled and can’t pay my taxes, will the taxing units sell my house and put me on the street for not paying my taxes?

If you are 65 or older or disabled, you may defer or postpone paying any current or delinquent property taxes on your home for as long as you own and live in it. To postpone tax payments, you must file a tax deferral affidavit with the appraisal district. You may suspend any lawsuit by filing an affidavit with the court. Or, you may suspend a pending sale to foreclose on the homestead’s tax lien, if you file for the abatement up to five days before the date of the sale. The deferral is for all delinquent property taxes owed taxing units that tax the home.

A tax deferral only postpones paying taxes. It doesn’t cancel them. Interest is added at the rate of 8 percent a year. Once the owner no longer owns the home or lives in it, past taxes and interest become due. Any penalty and interest that was due on the tax bill for the home before the tax deferral will remain on the property and also become due when the tax deferral ends. After the tax deferral ends and the taxes remain unpaid, the taxing units may add attorney fees on the 181st day after the deferral and pursue tax collections, past taxes and interest become due. Any penalty and interest that was due on the tax bill for the home before the tax deferral will remain on the property and due when the tax deferral ends. After the tax deferral ends and the taxes remain unpaid, the taxing units may add attorney fees on the 91st day after the deferral and pursue tax collections.

Your surviving spouse age 55 or older may continue to receive the tax deferral if the surviving spouse owns and lives in the home.

May a property owner pay a portion of delinquent taxes?

Some tax collectors allow delinquent property owners 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 the taxpayer’s signature an irrevocable admission that you owe all the taxes covered by the agreement.

When can a taxing unit file a delinquent tax suit?

A taxing unit may file a lawsuit at any time once taxes on a property go delinquent. The taxing unit’s last resort is taking a delinquent property owner to court. If a delinquent tax suit is successful, the court costs will be added to the delinquent tax bill. Each owner who owns taxable property on Jan. 1 is liable for all taxes due on the property for that year. This means that an owner who owned taxable property on Jan. 1 can be sued personally for delinquent taxes on a property, even if the property has been sold or transferred since then.

Each taxing unit holds a tax lien on each item of taxable property. This tax lien gives the court 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.

Contact your local taxing unit to discuss the specifics of your tax situation.

May I defer my taxes if a taxing unit has filed a suit in district court for failure to pay taxes on my property?

Yes. You may “abate,” the delinquent taxes if a taxing unit has filed a suit in district court for foreclosure purposes. If a judgment was rendered, you still may abate the taxes; however, you must do so five days prior to the tax sale.

Can a property owner whose property was sold at an auction get that property back?

Yes. A person can redeem the foreclosed property within six months after the purchaser’s deed is filed for record. The old owner must pay the new owner the purchase bid for the property, plus recording fees, amount of any taxes, penalties, interest and costs on the property, plus 25 percent of the aggregate total. If the property was a residence homestead or land designated agricultural use when the lawsuit was filed, the old owner may redeem the property within two years from the date the deed was recorded. The first year includes 25 percent of the aggregate total; the second year is at 50 percent of the total.

Flooded by Harvey?

You may qualify for an IRS tax refund.

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