Any person or company that owns property is required to pay property tax. Because such taxes are important to the infrastructure and functionality of every city, county and state, the penalty for failing to pay property tax can be severe, ranging from ongoing fees and penalties to the loss of personal property. The exact amount of time you have to pay your past due property taxes depends on where you live.
Property taxes are one of the oldest forms of taxation in the United States. Unlike many other forms of taxation, the benefits of property tax can be seen in your own backyard. Important public services such as schools, libraries, hospitals, police and firemen are all funded by property taxes. Local infrastructure, including roads, public parks and public transportation, also are supported by property taxes.
The responsibility of collecting property taxes usually falls to the county Department of Treasury. Some counties determine the delinquency date of property taxes relative to the end of the fiscal year, which for most businesses and governments is June 30. However, others require a certain portion of your annual property tax to be paid at the end of each business quarter. In Texas, for example, taxes are due January 31 and are considered delinquent on February 1, whereas in Island County, Wash., taxpayers must pay the first half of the year's property taxes by April 30, with the second half due October 31.
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Interest and Fees
Many states give you until the end of the current tax year to pay property tax once it is past due; however, each county assesses a penalty, usually in the form of interest ranging from 1 to 1 1/2 percent each month. In Oakland County, Mich., those who are past due on their property tax can be charged an annual interest rate as high as 18 percent, and if they have not paid the outstanding balance by the end of the third year, the county can initiate foreclosure proceedings on the home. In San Diego County, Calif., any tax not paid by 5 p.m. June 30 is entered into a master default file and may incur a 10 percent interest penalty with no maximum on total interest.
Once an individual has been notified that he is in default on his property taxes and still fails to meet his tax obligation, the county to which he owes tax may legally place a lien, or claim, on his property. This can include personal property of any value, including your home, car and other valuables. In some cases, the county may file a law suit against you or even seize and foreclose your home. If you are past due on your property taxes, you should make every effort to pay in full as soon as possible, and, if possible, contact your county tax department about possible payment plan options.