December 16, 2020
Property owners owe more than $5 billion in 2020 taxes to 136 local government entities, including $800 million to fund county services.
Travis County Tax Office mailed more than 400,000 property tax bills. Travis Central Appraisal District determines the value of property and individual taxing entities, such as schools and the county, set their tax rates and voters may choose to tax themselves by approving bond elections. The state’s 254 tax assessor-collector offices take the tax rates provided by the government entities and applies those rates against the appraisal district’s market valuation of the property to create the tax bill the property owner must pay in property taxes.
Texans have until Dec. 31 to pay their taxes if they need a receipt for their Internal Revenue Service taxes. Because the Jan. 31 deadline falls on a Sunday in 2021, the last day to pay property taxes without penalty and interest is Feb. 1.
Those who can pay, are being asked to do so online on the tax office website. For only $1, property taxes are paid by eCheck and those using the system are automatically emailed a receipt. “This is the safe, easy and fast way to pay,” said Bruce Elfant, the Travis County tax assessor-collector.
A new online tax office feature allows property owners to schedule when they want their bill paid. “This allows you to set your payment date before the deadline and the system will automatically pay your taxes and email you the receipt,” said Elfant, adding the feature was developed after numerous requests for it from property owners.
Property owners who escrow through a mortgage company or lending institution will have their taxes paid by the mortgage company, but property owners need to be aware that should a mortgage company pay late, the property owner is required to pay any penalty and interest.
Elfant said he expects the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the ability of some homeowners and business owners to pay their property taxes.
He has asked Gov. Greg Abbot to find a way to help taxpayers who are unable to pay due to the pandemic. “State law requires us to collect penalty and interest charges that go as high as 24% on the amount owed,” he said. “Tax assessor-collectors cannot change that, but the governor can.”
Those struggling financially can set up a payment plan on the tax office website.