How to Get Help Paying Your Property Taxes When You Are Behind

There may be help available if you can't pay your property taxes.

There may be help available if you can't pay your property taxes.

Paying property taxes is part of home ownership, and failure to set aside money throughout the year in order to pay them on time can leave you strapped as the deadline approaches. If you can’t pay the taxes you owe to your local government, you may qualify for a property tax relief program.

Contact your local taxing authority to find out if you can arrange a payment plan. You must follow the terms of your agreement and make each payment on time. Otherwise, you may not get another chance to catch up with your back taxes. You will be required to pay future property taxes on time.

Ask if your local taxing jurisdiction lowers property taxes for low-income seniors, disabled homeowners and veterans. Generally, most taxing authorities require you to reapply for tax reduction programs each year.

Inquire whether you qualify for a property tax deferral program, in which case the state will pay the deferred portion of your property taxes to your municipal or county government. Under this type of program, the portion of your property taxes that you are responsible for paying is limited to a specified percentage of your annual household income.

Submit a request in writing along with financial documentation to the board of abatement for your taxing authority. Depending on the state and taxing jurisdiction where you reside, you may meet the eligibility requirements to have part or all of your property taxes forgiven.

Apply for a hardship exemption if your household income is low and you don’t think you'll be able to pay your property taxes. In most cases, you apply at your local tax assessor’s office. Normally, your household income must be at or below poverty level for you to qualify for an exemption. Although you can’t usually get a hardship exemption for past due taxes, you may be eligible for exemption for the current year or future years.

See if you qualify for a hardship extension for property taxes you owe that are past due. If you can prove that your household is low income, your taxing jurisdiction may give you more time to pay your delinquent taxes.


  • If you cannot pay your property taxes, you must explain why when you apply for property tax abatement. Members from the community who sit on the board of abatement will decide whether to approve or deny your request. Some taxing jurisdictions require you to go before the board to make your request in person.


  • With a tax deferral program, any money the state pays toward your property taxes is a loan that you must eventually repay. Until then, a lien is placed on your home and the money you owe accrues interest.
  • In some states, the property tax reduction or deferral programs for qualifying senior citizens and disabled taxpayers have been eliminated by state budgets.

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About the Author

Amber Keefer has more than 25 years of experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration. Writing professionally since 1997, she has written articles covering business and finance, health, fitness, parenting and senior living issues for both print and online publications. Keefer holds a B.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in health care management from Baker College.

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