What options do I have if I can't afford to pay what I owe in property taxes?
UPDATED: February 20, 2013
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If you cannot pay your property taxes in full, you may have a few options available to you. In most cases, the regulations regarding your payment options for your property taxes depend on the local government in your area. Property taxes are set by your local government, and the local municipality controls the amount of interest or late fees that may be charged to you if you fail to pay on time.
An installment payment plan is one option if you can't pay the full amount of your property tax. Under this plan, rather than pay the property tax in full all at once, you simply pay half of the amount twice before the due date. This will clear your tax debt without you having to come up with the entire balance right away. Another option is to simply pay what you can before the due date arrives, then you will most likely be assessed interest or penalty on the delinquent amount after the due date has passed. You may also try to negotiate a hardship exemption or a tax deferral, depending on whether these options are available where you live.
Failure to pay any portion of your property taxes can result in both financial and legal ramifications, depending on the local ordinances that apply to your area. Not paying any amount of your taxes is the worst thing you can do, and in most cases the local government is happy to consider an installment plan as long as it resolves your debt by the recognized due date. You may also wish to consult with a property tax attorney if you need help negotiating with the county. Your local tax assessor can also help you explore options for paying property taxes.