Millions of people in the United States are unemployed as a result of Covid-19. Are you part of this group or are your CARES Act benefits about to run out?
If you’re not working right now or dealing with a reduction in hours and pay, you might be worried about paying bills, including your property taxes.
Luckily, there are steps you can take if you can’t pay property taxes. Read on to learn what you can do to get through.
What Happens If You Don’t Pay Property Taxes?
If you’re in a situation that prevents you from paying property taxes, there is a possibility that you could lose your home. Local tax authorities could put a lien on it and force its sale, similar to a foreclosure.
It’s important to note, though, that you’re not going to be at risk of losing your house the second your property tax payment is late. In most cases, your local tax authority starts by charging interest on the unpaid taxes. If you can catch up and cover the payment plus interest by a certain date, you don’t have to worry about further consequences.
The key is to act quickly. As soon as you know you can’t pay your bill on time, make a plan. This shows tax authorities that you take the situation seriously and want to get your bill paid.
What to Do If You Need Property Tax Help
What should you do if you don’t have the funds to cover this? And what relief options are available to you? Here are a few steps you can take:
1. Research Property Tax Policies in Your Area
This is one of the first things to do if you need financial relief and assistance paying your property taxes.
Right now, it’s accepted that people are having a hard time covering their bills. Because of this, local tax authorities have policies to help folks who can’t pay their property tax bill on time.
City governments don’t want to be in the position of forcing sales on houses when they know people are having a hard time. That’s why many states have extended the due dates for property tax payments.
Check with your state or county to find out whether they’ve put any extensions in place. You can also find out if they have any other form of relief you can get, even if the deadline has already passed.
2. Appeal Your Home’s Assessed Value
Your property tax payment is based, in part, on the value of your home. If you need to reduce the amount of money you pay in property taxes, you can consider appealing your home’s assessed value.
For a successful appeal, you’ll need to have proof the assessed value is too high. There may be additional requirements for the appeal process in your area, too.
This might seem like a good choice, but it’s important to note it can take time to go through an appeal. In some places, especially large cities, you also have to pay the tax bill before you can file an appeal. If you win, you’ll then receive a refund.
If you want to appeal your home’s value, research what the process is in your area. This can help you decide if it’s a worthwhile pursuit.
3. Apply for Property Tax Relief
Right now, many state and local governments have expanded options available for property tax relief. If you have lost your job or pay as a result of Covid-19, you will likely be eligible.
Property tax relief may allow you to pay your bill in installments, rather than one lump sum. You may also be able to pay a reduced amount or defer your payment for a few months until you can get back on your feet.
4. Request an Abatement
An abatement will forgive all or part of your property taxes. If you request an abatement and the local tax authority agrees to it, you won’t have to worry about losing your home.
To have your request accepted though, you’ll first need to prove that you only have the income to cover basic living expenses (mortgage payment, utilities, groceries, etc.). If you have unnecessary expenses or a lot of equity in your home, tax authorities may deny your request.
5. Apply for an Emergency Loan
You might also want to look into applying for an emergency loan or line of credit to pay your property tax bill.
A loan can help protect you from the risk of losing your home. It also allows you to pay the money back in installments, rather than one lump sum, which is more manageable for most people. If you are in a tight spot right now but expect to have more money coming in soon, this might be worth looking into.
Manage Your Property Taxes Today
The sooner you seek help and put together a plan, the better off you’ll be. Lots of companies are being flexible right now due to the pandemic.
From property tax appeals to a deferral, you have options if your property taxes are due and you aren’t in a position to pay them. Keep this list in mind and remember to take action as soon as possible.
Featured Photo by Wynand van Poortvliet on Unsplash.