Tax Deadline

Today -- June 30th -- is absolutely the last day Texans can pay their delinquent property taxes and avoid stiffer penalties, and being turned over to a collection agency. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt says people who haven't paid all or part of their delinquent taxes, or contacted his office to arrange to pay by the close of business today will pay a stiffer penalty, and be turned over to the law firm that collects unpaid back taxes.

"If you wait to pay your property taxes after June 30th, you're gonna get walloped with a 41.6 percent penalty for most of the taxpayers out there, so we're really trying to encourage people to pay what they can now."

Bettencourt says a 41 percent penalty on taxes for the average home, worth about 148 thousand dollars, would increase the tax bill nearly a thousand dollars. He says that's why people who can't pay need to call his office and work out a payment plan. That's why the downtown County Tax Office will work longer hours today.

"We're gonna stay open downtown till 6:30, due to the fact that HISD's tax office has been consolidated into my office for the first time, so we're expecting several thousand homeowners, at a minimum to show up and request contracts as a result."

Bettencourt says in a tiny percentage of cases, people who don't pay their taxes, at all, no matter what, will have their property foreclosed and sold at public auction. He says there's no reason for that to happen to anybody, when it's so easy to work out a payment plan. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.