Even if you have paid off your mortgage, you still have to keep on top of property taxes. Most people who have a mortgage don’t pay their property taxes directly. Instead, a little of each mortgage payment is put into an escrow account, and the lender pays the taxes from the funds in the account. Thus, when many older people pay off a mortgage, and begin having to pay property taxes directly, they aren’t used to it, and they may miss their payments.
If a homeowner doesn’t pay property taxes, the government can put a tax lien on the property. It may then sell the lien to an investor who is entitled to collect the debt along with penalties and interest. If the homeowner can’t pay, the investor can foreclose on the house and then potentially sell it for a large profit. Unfortunately, low-income elderly people are often the victims in these schemes. It doesn’t matter how small the tax bill is; the government can get a lien on even the smallest tax bill.
If you don’t remember receiving a property tax bill in a while, check with your jurisdiction to make sure you don’t owe any taxes. If you can’t afford to pay property taxes, many states have programs to help elderly homeowners with payments. You may be able to pay in installments or defer payments until you sell the house.
If you receive a tax lien notice or notice of foreclosure, contact your attorney immediately.