If you haven't paid your real estate taxes, you risk losing your home. If you're behind on your real estate taxes, here's what you can do about it.
Consequences of Late Real Estate Taxes
If you don't pay your property taxes on time, you could face penalties and interest charges. The first thing your county will do is send you a notice telling you that you owe money. They may then contact you by phone or mail to ask you to pay the amount owed.
If you still haven't paid after several months, they might file a lien against your home. A lien is a legal claim against your house. It means that the government has decided that it owns part of your home, and it can take possession of it if you fail to pay back the money you owe.
If you continue to not pay your real estate taxes, it's possible the local government will foreclose on your home and sell it at auction. The proceeds from the auction will go towards paying off your taxes.
You get to keep any money above what you owe in taxes, but it often isn't much. The government just cares about getting your tax bill paid, not getting the most money for your home.
If you're behind on property taxes, make sure you're taking advantage of any tax exemptions. A common exemption is the homestead exemption that lets you reduce your tax bill on your primary residence.
You may also be eligible for temporary exemptions due to financial hardship. If you qualify for an exemption, it's not automatic. You have to file an application with the tax authorities.
Many local governments will also offer payment plans to help you get caught up on your taxes. This allows you to pay what you owe over time. However, you'll probably have to keep paying fees and interest just like you do when you're paying off a credit card.
If you had a temporary hardship, a payment plan might be helpful. However, you should consider whether you're going to be able to pay both the payment plan and your future tax payments. If not, a payment plan may not be the best way to handle late real estate tax payments, and you should explore other options.
To get help with late real estate taxes, contact a local real estate tax attorney today.