State Law Allows Property Owners in Declared Disaster Area to Pay Taxes with 4-Installment Payment Plan
Here is some important information that everyone in the state of Texas, including property owners in Harris County, need to know if they need help after sustaining damage from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey and cannot pay their property tax bill in full before the January 31, 2018 deadline.
In accordance with Texas law, related to Section 31.032 of the Property Tax Code, taxpayers who sustained property damage as a result of a declared natural disaster MAY BE eligible to split their property tax payments into four (4) equal penalty and interest free installments, to be paid in full by July 31st.
Because of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey that hit the Greater Houston area on August 25th, this installment plan only applies to taxes imposed between the date of the declared disaster and exactly one year after, which would be August 25, 2018.
Property owners who qualify must have:
1) real property that is –
a. the residence homestead of the owner or consists of property that is used for residential purposes and that has fewer than five living units; or
b. owned or leased by a business entity that had not more than the amount calculated as provided by Subsection (h) in gross receipts in the entity’s most recent federal tax year or state franchise tax annual period, according to the applicable federal income tax return or state franchise tax report of the entity.
Note: The gross receipts threshold used in determining eligibility is $5,704,890
c. located in a declared disaster are; and
d. damaged as a direct result of the disaster.
2) tangible personal property owned or leased by a business entity as described in (b), above.
Relative to the requirements, property owners must do the following:
1) Make a payment of at least one-fourth (25%) of the total amount of taxes due prior to the due date shown on their tax statement (January 31, 2018, unless their account was late-certified)
Note: Taxpayers have a one-month grace period after the delinquency date to make the first payment. Penalty and interest totaling 7% will be added to the amount due.
2) Complete the “Request for Installment Agreement for Taxes on Property in a Disaster Area” form and send in to the County Tax Assessor-Collector
3) Provide proof of the property damage in the form of a FEMA or insurance sheet; photos of the damage, a copy of repair estimates, or paid invoices.
After the first installment payment on January 31, 2018, the remaining taxes may be paid without penalty or interest if submitted in a timely manner, as followed:
- The second installment must be paid by March 31st.
- The third installment must be paid by May 31st.
- The fourth installment must be paid by July 31st.
Your respective County Tax Office should have the proper documentation that offers this installment payment plan option to any disaster victims, but taxpayers are being encouraged to contact their County Tax Office before the January 31, 2018 deadline.
In Harris County, nearly 1 million property tax bills have gone out in the mail and on their way to Harris County property owners. Taxpayers should strongly consider this option if they endured any damaged and experienced any financial hardships as a result of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey that would prevent them from being able to pay their property tax bill in full before the January 31, 2018 deadline.
For further information in Harris County relative to the Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey installment payment plan, please visit www.hctax.net/Weather/HarveyResources.
As a reminder, Texas law also provides for certain other exemptions, which are deferrals to help reduce the property tax obligations of qualifying property owners.
If you have an over 65 or disabled exemption or are the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran, you may also request to pay your property taxes in four (4) equal payments without penalty and interest.
To apply, you must provide:
- Payment in the amount of at least one-fourth (25%) of the total amount of current taxes due.
- A written request to pay in installments. This can be in the form of a letter, email, or signature on a check or on your tax statement.
- In order to avoid penalty and interest, the request and initial payment must be submitted by January 31st.
Requests will be accepted after January 31st and before March 1st. However 6% penalty and 1% interest will be assessed for the month of February and the next payment will be due by March 31st. In Harris County, requests should be sent to: Special Tax Services Dept. – P.O. Box 3746 Houston, TX 77253-3746, or for help regarding this payment plan, call Special Tax Services at: 713-274-8120.