Every citizen of the United States who owns a home has to pay property taxes on that home. In times of financial hardship, it may become increasingly difficult for you to pay property taxes, but there are ways to get help in paying your property taxes so you don't lose your home.
If you have a mortgage, most lenders put money away for you in an escrow account because they want to have a means of protecting the asset (your home) to which they are tied. If your lender did not set up an escrow account for you, you can request this so you'll pay on the taxes each month rather than paying one large annual fee.
If you're already in arrears, the lender might be willing to give you a loan to cover the taxes in full, depending on your credit and the amount of taxes owed.
Deferment and Abatement
File for property tax deferment with your municipal or town clerk. This essentially means you are applying for a loan, which you will pay back in taxes. Interest on deferment loans is typically low.
Another option is to request an abatement, which would forgive your taxes because of financial hardship. This may be particularly useful for people who have unexpected medical issues, the elderly or those who have been unemployed for a significant period of time.
Appeals and Consultants
File an appeal to your property taxes. In some cases, people overpay on their taxes because taxes are assessed based on formulas that might not accurately represent the value of the property. These formulas also may not take into consideration changes in property value for your area.
If the appeal is unsuccessful, your next option is to hire a consultant. A property tax consultant can investigate whether you are overpaying and make a case for you with local, state and federal governments. Look for a consultant who works on a contingency basis, meaning the consultant won't get paid unless you win your case.
Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website, Takingdictation.com, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.