Deadline approaching for delinquent taxes

HOUSTON "If you still owe on your 2010 property taxes, you are just hours from owing considerably more," Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Don Sumners warns. "If you do not act now, a painful penalty will be added on Friday, July 1, and your account will be turned over to the collection attorneys of the government units we work with. Don't do this to yourself. Waiting only makes it worse."

Each $100 owed in taxes in January has grown to $115 with penalty and interest through June and, at on July 1, will become $142.

Taxpayers can reduce their overall bill -- which on July 1 will include an additional 23 percent penalty and interest on the unpaid delinquent amount -- by setting up an installment agreement on or before June 30.

"To see if you are eligible for an installment plan and to make these arrangements, please call us today," Sumners said.

The number is 713-368-2000. The e-mail address is

Taxpayers who make a partial payment, even without an installment agreement, also reduce the amount of delinquent taxes owed and thus the cost of the additional 23 percent.

Taxpayers can pay online or by telephone. Allow enough time for the transaction to be finished by 11:59pm CDT on June 30. Installment agreements cannot be executed online, however, payments toward an existing agreement maybe be made online or via the telephone. The tax office teller windows will close at the usual time, 4:30pm, on Thursday, June 30.

Sumners warned, "We can't let persons who have many delinquencies delay persons who have one delinquent account or are trying to conduct routine business. So, we will do only five installment agreements per taxpayer before sending him to the end of the line."

The tax office accepts full or partial payment of property taxes. Taxpayers may use any combination of credit cards and/or e-Checks for payment online at Credit card and e-Check payments are also accepted by touch-tone telephone by calling 713-368-CARD (2273). The tax office accepts American Express, Discover and MasterCard credit cards, and VISA credit or debit cards. A non-refundable surcharge of 2.15 percent will be added to each credit card payment transaction processed. VISA debit cards will be charged a flat fee of $3.95. E-checks are free.

If taxpayers wish to arrange for an installment agreement or a military deferral/waiver or have any other questions regarding their property tax account, they should contact the Tax Office at 713-368-2000. Taxpayers who are over 65 or disabled should complete the form enclosed with the notice that they received and send it to the Harris County Appraisal District or call HCAD at 713-957-7800. Persons mailing a payment should ensure that it gets postmarked on June 30. The only way to be certain of that is to take it to the post office and watch the clerk hand stamp the mailing date.

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