Remember to Pay Your Property Tax

Posted on January 27, 2008 by Nancy Liu | Category: Real Estate

Autumn is the season of harvest.  It is also the annual property-tax season. If this is your first year of owning your newly purchased property, or if you own land, rental property or commercial property, you need to check the payment of every single property’s tax bill from your local county (or city, if the property is also in the city limits).

Most metro counties have property tax due dates around August to November every year.  Tax bills for the City of Atlanta, Fulton County and Cobb County are due on October 15th.  Gwinnett County bills are due in two installments on September 15th and November 15th.  The DeKalb County tax is also due in two installments, on August 15th and November 15th. If you have not received your property-tax bill, please contact your local county or city to avoid penalties for late payment.

Property taxes are calculated according to the appraised value of the property each year.  If the property was sold during the current tax year, the tax bill will be under the previous owner’s name. If the new owner does not pay attention and misses the property-tax bill, the new owner might miss the tax payment.  This is especially common for those new owners who purchased properties after June of the year.  After the excitement and chaos of moving into a new house, the new owner might totally forget about the property tax. Also, if you own rental or commercial properties, the tax commissioner’s office usually sends the tax bill to the property address. The tenant might not pay attention and discard the property tax bill as junk mail, causing him to miss the property-tax due dates. However, if you have a loan when you purchased the property, and have an escrow account set up with the mortgage company to pay the property tax, you can avoid the trouble of paying the tax by yourself.

What is the consequence of missing the property-tax payments? It is significant, because it might result in loss of your property ownership. Most county and city governments will file tax Fifa on the properties whose property taxes were not paid.   Some counties and cities might even auction the tax Fifa. The winning bidders (mostly companies in this particular business) have the ownership of the tax Fifa. The property owners usually have to pay 120% of the property tax on the properties bought by these companies in order to remove the tax Fifa from the property. If the government put the property on foreclosure because of the delinquent tax payments, then the winning bidder will own the property, even though it is only a defeasible title. If the original owner does not redeem the property in time, the bidder then becomes the fee simple owner of the property — the original owner will lose the ownership of the property permanently. Usually after the bidder purchases the property in an auction, she or he should give the original owner twelve (12) months to re-purchase it. But the price would be 20% more than what is paid at the auction. This is not a small figure and might be as much as the original purchase price of the property. When this happens, the property owner often regrets that a small mistake caused by ignorance or negligence resulted in a huge loss.

If you have not received the property-tax bill or have concerns on this issue, please contact your local city or county Tax Commissioner.

This article is only for your reference. Please do not apply mechanically to any exact cases. You are welcome to consult our attorneys at Liu & Associates, P.C. For contact information, please click here.