What happens if you don’t pay property taxes?

What happens if you don’t pay property taxes?

Penalties for late payment of property taxes:

  • The penalty for late payment of your property taxes is 10% of the amount due.
  • Each successive missed payment penalty is added to the previous amount.
  • If left unpaid, there is an additional 10% penalty every six months for any unpaid penalties and amounts.
  • Payments apply toward penalties first, and then your property tax amount.

How the government can sell your home to collect delinquent taxes:

  • If you don’t pay your property taxes, the overdue amount becomes a lien on your home, effectively making the property act as collateral for the debt.
  • The lien includes not just the amount of back taxes but also any amounts of interest, penalties, and costs stemming from the failure or late payment of taxes.
  • Having a lien placed on your home is the first step a tax collector must take to sell the home at an auction.
  • In California, your home typically cannot be sold by the tax collector until five years after the property becomes tax-defaulted.
  • If the property remains tax-defaulted for at least five years, the county tax collector can sell the property to settle the delinquent taxes.

The timeline for a tax sale to happen:

  • The government must follow multiple steps before selling your home at a tax sale.
  • In California, the tax collector usually can’t sell your home until five years after the property becomes tax-defaulted.
  • The timeline for a tax sale to happen varies by state and county.
  • In Illinois, unpaid taxes are auctioned to a tax buyer, but homeowners have a redemption period to pay and prevent the sale.

Options for addressing delinquent property taxes:

  • Pay property taxes on time to avoid penalties. If unable, consult a property tax attorney or consider a payment plan.

What is the deadline for paying property taxes?

Property Tax Payment Deadlines in Some Major U.S. States:

  • California: November 1
  • Florida: March 31
  • Illinois: June 1
  • Massachusetts: November 3
  • Michigan: December 1
  • New Jersey: February 1
  • New York: January 1
  • Texas: May 1

Important Note:

  • Property tax deadlines can vary significantly by state and even within counties, so it’s crucial to verify the specific deadline for paying your property taxes with your local tax assessor or collector.
  • Missing the property tax payment deadline may result in penalties and interest charges, the specific rates of which can differ from state to state.

What is the penalty for paying property taxes late?

Penalties and Interest Rates for Late Property Tax Payments in Select U.S. States:


  • Late Payment Penalty: 10%
  • Monthly Interest: 1.5%


  • Late Payment Penalty: 5%
  • Monthly Interest: 1%


  • Late Payment Penalty: 1%
  • Monthly Interest: 1%


  • Late Payment Penalty: 3%
  • Annual Interest: 6%


  • Late Payment Penalty: 5%
  • Monthly Interest: 1%

New Jersey:

  • Late Payment Penalty: 6%
  • Annual Interest: 18%

New York:

  • Late Payment Penalty: 5%
  • Annual Interest: 12%


  • Late Payment Penalty: 1%
  • Annual Interest: 8%


  • These are examples, and specific penalties and interest rates for late property tax payments can vary by state and county.
  • It’s essential to check with your local tax assessor or collector to determine the exact penalties and interest rates that will apply to your late property tax payment.
  • If you’re unable to pay your property taxes on time, contact your local tax assessor or collector to inquire about the possibility of setting up a payment plan, as many states offer this option for taxpayers facing financial hardship.

Property Taxes and Liens Against Your Home

Explanation of how property taxes work:

  • Property taxes are homeowner payments that fund government services, including schools, libraries, roads, parks, and various public amenities.
  • The amount of tax due is usually based on the assessed value of the home.

How a lien is placed on your home if you don’t pay property taxes:

  • If you don’t pay your property taxes, the delinquent amount becomes a lien on your home.
  • A lien is a legal claim on your property, using it as collateral to ensure debt repayment.
  • States allow local governments to sell homes via tax sale for delinquent taxes.
  • When a property tax lien is on a home, the taxing authority, such as the county, might eventually hold a tax sale.
  • Generally, the two basic types of tax sales are “tax deed sales” and “tax lien certificate sales.”
  • In a tax deed sale, the taxing authority sells the home outright, and the buyer gets a deed (title) to the property.
  • In tax lien sales, authorities sell liens, granting buyers the right to collect debts, penalties, and interest.

What the lien includes:

  • The lien includes back taxes, along with accrued interest, penalties, and costs resulting from tax payment delays.
  • Property tax liens typically take priority over other liens, such as mortgage and deed of trust liens.
  • Losing your home through a tax foreclosure process results in mortgages being wiped out since a property tax lien takes priority.
  • Loan servicers cover overdue property taxes, adding them to your mortgage balance through contracts.

Importance of paying property taxes on time:

  • It is important to pay your property taxes on time to avoid the consequences of delinquent taxes.
  • Unable to pay property taxes? Options include consulting a property tax attorney or opting for a payment plan.

Options for Delinquent Taxpayers

How to pay off the delinquent amounts:

  • You can use payment plans, also known as Confessions of Judgment, for delinquent property taxes.
  • Partial payments are accepted, and payments are applied first to penalties, then to interest, fees, and taxes.
  • In California, you can pay off the delinquent amounts before or after a tax sale and maintain ownership of your home.

Entitlement to excess proceeds from the sale:

  • If your home is sold at a tax sale, you may be entitled to excess proceeds from the sale.
  • After the county’s taxes, fees, and other costs are paid, any remaining proceeds from the sale will go to the property owner.

Lender’s role in paying the defaulted property taxes:

  • If you have a loan on your property, your lender may pay the defaulted property taxes to prevent their loan security from being wiped out.
  • If your lender pays the defaulted amount, they will add the amount you owed, along with penalties, to your existing loan amount.
  • Lenders are usually notified of upcoming tax auctions by the County if they have a loan on a property.

Exploring your options:

  • It is important to explore your options if you are unable to pay your property taxes.
  • Speaking with a knowledgeable property tax attorney or entering into a payment plan may help you avoid the consequences of delinquent taxes.


In conclusion, failing to pay property taxes can have serious consequences, including penalties, interest, and the potential loss of your home through tax foreclosure. The specific penalties and interest rates vary by state, and property tax deadlines differ as well. However, most states offer options for addressing delinquent taxes, such as payment plans. It’s essential to understand your state’s regulations, consult with local tax authorities, and take proactive steps to prevent the financial and legal repercussions of unpaid property taxes.

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