How to Defer Property Taxes with Hardship Letter

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If you are a homeowner facing a financial hardship, such as a job loss, reduction in annual income or a serious medical condition, you might struggle to pay your property tax bill when it comes due. If you think that you won't be able to afford your bill this year, you can apply to defer your property taxes by writing a financial hardship letter to your county assessor's office. You'll need to prove your financial hardship; but if you do, you won't have to pay your taxes this year. Be warned, though: The county assessor will not forgive these taxes. You will have to pay them next year, unless you obtain another deferment.

Call your county assessor's office and explain that you have suffered a financial setback that makes it impossible for you to pay your property taxes this year. Request a deferment of these taxes. Be aware that different states have different procedures for property tax deferrals. Some states have special programs set aside for senior and disabled homeowners who want to defer their taxes. Ask your state about these programs if you think you might qualify.

Make copies of the financial paperwork that you can use to prove that your gross monthly income has fallen while your monthly debt obligations have remained constant or have risen. These papers can include your last two paychecks, if you are still working; your most recent federal income tax statement; your savings and checking account statements; your most recent credit card bills; and the statements from any other loans you may hold, including student, auto or personal.

Write a financial hardship letter explaining why you can't afford to pay your property taxes this year. This letter should spell out exactly what financial hardship you are facing. If you've lost your job, write that. If your employer has cut your working hours significantly, write that. If you suffered a serious medical condition or injury that kept you from working, describe this in your letter.

Close your letter by requesting a deferral of your property taxes. Also write that you are attaching copies of several financial papers that document how badly your gross monthly income has fallen while your monthly debt obligations have not.

Send the copies and your financial hardship letter to your assessor's office. Make sure to get the correct mailing address.

If you do receive a deferment, begin preparing for next year. Remember, the county assessor will expect you to pay not only next year's tax bill on time, but also the one that you deferred. This is a lot of money to come up with at one time, so start saving now if possible.

Tips

  • If you are having trouble paying your property tax bill every year, consider setting up an escrow arrangement with your mortgage lender. Under such an arrangement, you will send extra money in each month with your regular mortgage payment. The lender then holds onto the money until your property tax bill is due. The lender will pay the bill from the funds it collected from you. This prevents homeowners from having to come up with a large sum of money every time their property taxes are due.

References

About the Author

Don Rafner has been writing professionally since 1992, with work published in "The Washington Post," "Chicago Tribune," "Phoenix Magazine" and several trade magazines. He is also the managing editor of "Midwest Real Estate News." He specializes in writing about mortgage lending, personal finance, business and real-estate topics. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Illinois.

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