It's Time to Pay Your Property Taxes! Yes, Really!

J Thomas Black
Board Certified, Consumer Bankruptcy Law- Texas Board of Legal Specialization

PROPERTY TAXES, also known as “ad valorem” taxes, are due now in Texas, and are last payable without penalty before the end of January.

Property taxes are billed “in arrears” in Texas. They are legally due on January 1, but the tax rate is not usually determined until the summer, and the bills go out in the fall. And they have to be paid by January 31 of the following year, or you are socked with penalties. The taxes for 2010 are being collected now.

If you itemize deductions on your income taxes, and you want to deduct your property taxes on your 1040 tax return, the property taxes must be paid before December 31. Actually if they are post-marked by then, that is good enough.

If you pay on February 1 or later, regular penalty charges may be as high as 12 percent, depending on how long the tax remains unpaid. Interest is charged at the rate of 1 percent per month, and interest continues to accrue as long as the tax remains delinquent. There may also be an additional 15 percent penalty added if the taxing unit hires a private attorney to collect the delinquent taxes.

What can you do to hold your property taxes down? (1) If you don’t own your house yet, buy in a low tax neighborhood! My taxes are no more than about 1.8% of my house’s value; some of my client’s rates are 2.3, even 2.5%. (2) Claim all the exemptions that you can, including homestead, disabled or over-65, and/or veteran. (3) Protest your home’s value every year. If you don’t have time, you can hire an agent to do it for you, usually for a % of what they save you. One popular agent here in the Houston area is Patrick O’Connor of (4) Pay taxes on time, the penalties are very high.
I have clients that get behind on their property taxes, and then get a letter from one of these “tax rescue” services, that loans you money at outrageous interest rates, and takes your house as collateral. Don’t do it! If nothing else, you can contact your mortgage lender to advance the funds, and set up an escrow account for you. Property taxes are “first” priority, and if they are not paid, they can foreclose not only on you but on your mortgage company!

Or as another option, some people come to me to file Chapter 13 to stop the property tax authorities from suing them and foreclosing on them for the taxes. A Chapter 13 case is a kind of bankruptcy case that can give you up to 60 months (5 years) to catch up the delinquent taxes through a court-approved plan, along with your other debts.
If you are in deep trouble with your property taxes or other debts and want to discuss your bankruptcy alternatives, call and speak to Mr. Black at 713-772-8037, or email him at [email protected] 


Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go—purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything, whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.
—Tina Turner
Excellence in any department can be attained only by the labor of a lifetime; it is not to be purchased at a lesser price.
—Samuel Johnson
Succeeding is not really a life experience that does that much good. Failing is a much more sobering and enlightening experience.
—Michael Eisner


Darvon, Darvocet pulled from U.S. Market

In November 2010 the FDA announced prescription pain medications Darvon, Darvocet, and their generic form were being withdrawn from the U.S. market. The popular painkillers have been linked to serious heart risks that may result in sudden death. Lawyers associated with Mr. Black are investigating cases involving sudden death or hospitalization with an abnormal heart rhythm while taking Darvocet or Darvon. Call Mr. Black at 713-772-8037 if you believe that you have a case.

A little humor – The “New Employment Policies” Edition

We will no longer accept a doctor’s statement as proof of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.

SURGERY: Operations are now banned. As long as you are an employee here, you need all your organs. You should not consider removing anything. We hired you intact. To have something removed constitutes a breach of employment.

Each employee will receive 104 personal days each year. They are called “Saturday” and “Sunday.”

All employees will take their vacations at the same time every year. The vacation days are as follows: January 1st, July 4th & December 25th.

This will be accepted as an excuse for not coming to work. However, we require at least two weeks’ notice, as it is your duty to train your own replacement.

THANK YOU. Thank you for your loyalty to our company. We are here to provide
a positive employment experience. Therefore, all questions, comments, concerns, complaints, frustrations, irritations, aggravations, insinuations, allegations, accusations, contemplations, or input should be directed elsewhere. ■

Call Us If You Need Us. We Also Welcome Referrals

Are bill collectors threatening to take your home or garnish your wages? Are they threatening to do anything else that they are not allowed to by law?

Is your mortgage company charging you fees and costs that are not due? Are you just overwhelmed with debt?

Facing a foreclosure or repossession? Is the I.R.S. threatening to levy your wages or other property? If any of these situations describes you, contact Mr. Black at 713-772-8037 or make an appointment to go see him. ■