As we all work to navigate the restrictions and challenges of COVID-19, we’ve seen a few trends in how states, cities, and counties adjusted their property tax calendars, penalties, and even tax rates. Here are the most common property tax adjustments:
1. WAIVING LATE PENALTIES
One of the most widespread reactions to COVID-19 among state and local leadership has been to waive late penalties for property owners who need extra time to make their payments.
In some states, an executive order has granted automatic late fee forgiveness for a set amount of time. In Indiana, for instance, an executive order waived all late penalties for property taxes paid up to 60 days after the May 11 deadline.
Other states are allowing local governments to decide how to handle penalty delays—in California, several counties are offering penalty waiver applications for those who can demonstrate financial hardship due to COVID-19.
2. EXTENDING DUE DATES AND DEADLINES
Another common property tax adjustment has been to extend or delay the property tax payment deadline. This has largely been at the city and county level.
A few states have passed bills which give specific limits and guidelines for municipalities to follow. In Connecticut, for example, the governor has asked that all cities and towns choose one or both of two options—a payment deferral through October 1 or a lower interest rate.
Conversely, some states are allowing each municipality to make its own decisions. Illinois is a perfect example of this response—every county has a different approach, from payment extensions to waiving late penalties to splitting payments into installments.
3. PAYMENT PLANS AND INSTALLMENT ADJUSTMENTS
Speaking of which, that’s a third trend we’ve seen quite a bit of: rather than delaying the full property tax payment, some governments have chosen to offer payment plans or to allow property owners to split their payments into smaller installments.
This seems to occur at the local level much more commonly than at the state level. A few examples of this approach include the City of New York, NY; San Juan County, UT; and Clark County, WA.
For municipalities that already take payments in installments, property owners have been given the option to delay one of the installments or waive late fees. Iowa, for example, suspended late penalties and interest accrual for as long as the State of Public Health Disaster Emergency is in effect.
4. DELAYING ASSESSMENT MAILINGS
Although somewhat less common, it’s worth mentioning that several counties delayed mailing out their assessment notices and/or tax bills due to the quarantine. This includes (but is not limited to) a few counties in Georgia such as Gwinnett and Hall Counties, and several CADs in Texas such as Dallas, Montgomery, and Tarrant CADs. These delays largely came at the beginning of the pandemic, and counties are starting to catch back up.
5. PROPERTY TAX RATE CHANGES
Finally, as municipalities begin looking ahead and evaluating how to repair the damage done by COVID-19, we’re seeing pushes to increase, decrease, or freeze the property tax rates. There are very few cases of anything being finalized here, but a few examples of these initiatives include Nashville, TN proposing a property tax increase; Marion County, TX asking to freeze all property tax appraisals at their Jan. 1, 2019 rate; and Ada County, IA choosing to increase assessed values by about 5.5% rather than the expected 10%.
For the full list of changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, review this blog post. We’re updating the post daily as we learn of new changes.
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