Homeowners can utilize payment option to postpone paying taxes

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Texas homeowners may postpone paying the current property taxes on the appreciating value of their homes by taking advantage of a payment option called “residence homestead tax deferral” by signing an affidavit at the Smith County Appraisal District office, SCAD officials announced.

In addition, homeowners 65 and older or those who are disabled can also postpone their tax payment by signing the same affidavit.

“If the affidavit is on file, an over-65 homeowner, one who is disabled or is a disabled veteran, cannot lose a homestead because of delinquent taxes,” Mike Barnett, chief appraiser of the Smith County Appraisal District said.

This special form of tax relief also halts a lawsuit filed to collect delinquent property taxes on the home, according to Barnett.

“To stop a delinquent tax suit,” Barnett said. “The homeowner files the deferral affidavit with the court in which the suit is pending.”

The law allows an age 65 and older, disabled homeowner or disabled veteran to halt a pending sale to foreclose on the homestead’s tax lien. And, the law extends the tax deferral to the surviving spouse of an individual who deferred the taxes on the homestead if the surviving spouse was 55 years of age when the deceased spouse died.

Barnett stressed the tax deferral only postpones paying taxes on the home; it does not cancel them. During the deferral time, taxes and interest of five percent per year continue to accumulate although no additional penalties are added.

“When the qualified homeowner or surviving spouse no longer owns and lives in the home, all the deferred taxes and interest, as well as any penalties imposed before the deferral was filed, become due,” Barnett said. If the taxes are not paid, taxing units can then sue to collect the amount due. Additional penalties may be added if the taxes remain delinquent after the deferral ends.

The “residence homestead tax deferral” is designed to allow homeowners to pay the taxes on 105 percent of the preceding year’s appraised value of their homesteads, plus the taxes on any new improvements to the homesteads.

The remaining taxes are deferred and accrue interest at an annual rate of 5 percent.

Homeowners who qualified for residence homestead exemptions in 2017 may use the deferral beginning in tax year 2018.

After a deferral affidavit is filed, no taxing unit can start or continue a lawsuit for the deferred taxes as long as that person owns and lives in that home.

“When the taxpayer no longer owns and lives in the home,” Barnett said, “the deferred taxes become due.”

If the taxes are not paid, penalties may be applied and taxing units may sue to collect all deferred taxes, penalties and interest.

For more information or to obtain deferral forms, contact the Smith County Appraisal District, 245 S.SE. Loop 323, Tyler, 903-510-8600 or log on to www.smithcad.org.

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