Q: I didn’t get the property tax bill for my home and now I have to pay the late penalty. Do you have any suggestions for how to fill out the waiver application?
A: The responsibility for finding out how much your property tax bill is falls on every homeowner. Even if you don’t receive a bill, you’re obligated to get the information and make the payment on time, or you will be assessed a late fee.
That’s what has happened to you. Have you tried to find out why you didn’t receive a tax bill? Is the address incorrect in the records? Did one of your neighbors get it by accident?
I suggest you fill out the waiver honestly, and simply point out that in however many years of living in the property you have paid your tax bill on time and in full (if this is true) and that you did not receive the tax bill through the U.S. mail. I’d hope there would be some leniency, but given the dire nature of most state budgets, I’m guessing you’ll have to pay the penalty.
In the future, you’d be best off marking when tax bills are due in your calendar, and then adding a reminder three weeks before the due date. Some financial software programs will remind you of recurring bills. If you maintain your financial records with programs like these, make sure you enter all of your important recurring bills into the software to receive reminders.
This way, you’ll remember to look for your tax bill and if you don’t get it, you can contact the assessor’s office to ensure you get another copy, or you’ll be able to go online to find out how much you owe.
You should mark when your tax bills are due even if you escrow your taxes and insurance premiums with your lender. You should make sure you know when your tax bills come out, when they should get paid and that your lender actually does make the right payment. While your lender may ultimately be responsible for the late payment, the hassle of getting the lender to make the payment can be eliminated if you are vigilant about when your tax bills are due and the amount that should be paid.
Finally, in some parts of the country, paying real estate tax bills is easier than in others. When you purchase real estate, the tax collector will automatically update your information in their database and you can generally be assured of getting your real estate tax bills.
In other parts of the country, you have to complete a name or address change yourself or you won’t get the tax bills. It’s up to you, the property owner, to follow up and understand when the tax bills come out, what amount you owe, when the bill is due and who is responsible for the payment.
If you let this slide, you could find your property sold for nonpayment of property taxes.
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