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Consumer Updates

Understanding property tax loans




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October 11, 2011 | 1953 views | Post a comment

BBB advises consumers to evaluate all options before taking out a loan to pay taxes


AUSTIN, Texas -- Property taxes can pile up quickly when not paid on time. Some lenders offer to pay off back property taxes and stop interest and penalties from accruing, while allowing property owners to pay back the loan in installments over many years.


However, Better Business Bureau warns property tax loans can also be a slippery slope that can lead to foreclosure and other financial difficulties.


“I don’t have a problem with people using these types of businesses; they just need to be aware of the consequences,” Sylvia Romo, tax assessor-collector for Bexar County, said. “Get all the facts and then make an intelligent decision based on all the facts.”


Romo pointed out that these types of loans do not stop foreclosure. She said they simply transfer the tax lien to a private company, which can then foreclose for nonpayment. She added that most tax assessor-collectors’ offices are more than willing to work with property owners to make payment arrangements.


“As a public servant, I make every effort to work with ... the property owners in doing payment arrangements,” she said. “These are profit-making businesses; we are not profit making, so we are going to be more lenient.”


BBB offers the following advice to those considering a property tax loan:


· Call the taxing agency first. Most government agencies are willing to create payment plans and make other arrangements with those behind on tax payments. Certain individuals may even qualify for a property tax deferral. Make sure you have exhausted every means of assistance available through the agency before considering a loan.


· Understand the process. A property tax loan provider will pay off the taxing entity, but that doesn’t mean your taxes are paid. The tax lien simply transfers to the private lender.


· Pay attention to the terms. Find out how much, in total, the private lender will charge you in interest and fees. You may end up paying more than you would have paid the taxing entity.


· Check other avenues. A property tax loan provider is not your only option. Check with your bank to see if you qualify for a lower-interest loan. Or see if you can pay the balance with a credit card; the interest rate may be higher, but you will keep your home should you default or file bankruptcy.


· Consult an attorney. A lawyer can help you negotiate with a taxing entity and understand the terms of a property tax loan, or help you decide whether or not to file bankruptcy. Texaslawhelp.org provides information to help those who cannot afford legal counsel, and can help you find low-cost representation.


· Start with trust. Check out a lender’s BBB Business Review at bbb.org to see how many complaints have been filed against it before doing business. Also ensure the lender is licensed by the state of Texas.


To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.
 
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