Selling Your House with Property Taxes Owed: What You Need to Know

Selling Your House with Property Taxes Owed What You Need to Know

Selling a house is a significant financial transaction that involves various legal and financial considerations. One important aspect that homeowners must address when selling their property is property taxes. These taxes are levied by local governments and are essential for funding public services like schools, infrastructure, and emergency services. If you’re wondering, “Can you sell your house if you owe property taxes?”—you’re not alone. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the following topics:

In Today’s Article:

  1. Types of Property Taxes
  2. How to Determine if You Owe Property Taxes
  3. The Effects of Selling a Property with Taxes Owed
  4. Implications of Selling a Property with Taxes Owed
  5. Understanding Property Tax Liens
  6. Options for Selling a Property with Taxes

We’ll delve into each of these aspects to provide you with a thorough understanding of what to expect when selling a property with property taxes owed. Whether you’re a homeowner looking to sell your home or simply seeking to broaden your knowledge, this guide will equip you with the information you need to navigate this complex process.

Property Taxes in Texas | How Property Taxes Work

Types of Property Taxes

Property taxes come in various forms, and their structure may vary depending on your location. Here are some common types:

a. Real Property Taxes

Real property taxes, also known as ad valorem taxes, are assessed based on the value of your property. They are typically used to fund local government services such as schools, roads, and public safety. The tax rate is often expressed as a percentage of the property’s assessed value.

b. Personal Property Taxes

In addition to real property taxes, some jurisdictions also assess personal property taxes on assets like vehicles, boats, and business equipment. These taxes are typically separate from real property taxes and have their own assessment and payment schedules.

c. Special Assessments

Special assessments are additional taxes imposed for specific purposes, such as funding the construction or maintenance of local infrastructure projects like sidewalks, street lighting, or sewer systems. These assessments are usually tied to the benefit that the property owner receives from the improvement.

d. Transfer Taxes

Transfer taxes are one-time fees imposed when a property changes ownership. They are often a percentage of the property’s sale price and are typically paid by the seller, buyer, or both parties. These taxes are separate from ongoing property taxes.

How to Determine if You Owe Property Taxes

How to Determine if You Owe Property Taxes

Before selling your house, it’s crucial to determine if you owe any outstanding taxes. Here’s how you can go about it:

a. Contact Your Local Tax Authority

The most direct way to find out if you owe any back taxes is to contact your local tax authority. This could be a county or municipal office responsible for property tax assessments. They can provide you with detailed information about your tax account, including any outstanding balances.

b. Review Your Property Tax Bill

If you’ve been paying property taxes regularly, you should have received annual property tax bills. These bills typically outline the assessed value of your property, the tax rate, and the total amount due. Review your most recent tax bill to ensure all your property tax payments have been made.

c. Online Resources

Many local governments offer online tools or portals where you can check your property tax status. These platforms may allow you to view your account balance, payment history, and due dates.

The Effects of Selling a Property with Taxes Owed

The Effects of Selling a Property with Taxes Owed

Selling a house with delinquent property taxes owed can have several effects on the home sale process and your financial situation:

a. Reduced Sale Proceeds

When you owe taxes, the outstanding amount will typically be paid from the proceeds of the sale before you receive any money. This means that you will receive a lower amount than the sale price of your property, as the tax debt takes priority.

b. Delays in Closing

Having delinquent taxes can lead to delays in the real estate transaction closing process. Buyers and their lenders will want to ensure that all outstanding property taxes are addressed before completing the sale. Resolving these issues can take time and may postpone the closing date.

c. Limited Buyer Pool

Some buyers may be hesitant to purchase a property with outstanding property tax debt. This can reduce the pool of potential buyers and make it more challenging to sell your house quickly or at the desired price.

d. Legal Consequences

Continuing to avoid paying back taxes can lead to legal consequences, such as liens on your property or even foreclosure in extreme cases. These legal actions can severely impact your ability to get the property sold.

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Implications of Selling a Property with Taxes Owed

Implications of Selling a Property with Taxes Owed

Selling a house with delinquent property taxes owed can have significant financial obligations and legal implications. Here are some of the key implications you should be aware of:

a. Tax Lien on the Property

If you owe taxes, your local government may place a tax lien on your property. A tax lien is a legal claim that gives the government the right to collect the unpaid taxes from the proceeds when the property is sold. This lien for unpaid property taxes takes priority over other claims on the property, including mortgages and other debts.

b. Potential for Foreclosure

In some cases, if taxes remain unpaid for an extended period, the local government may initiate foreclosure proceedings. This could result in the forced sale of your property to satisfy the tax debt. Foreclosure can have devastating consequences for homeowners, including the loss of their home.

c. Negative Impact on Credit

Having unpaid taxes can negatively impact your credit score. Tax liens and foreclosure proceedings may be reported to credit bureaus, making it difficult for you to obtain credit in the future and affecting your overall financial health.

d. Legal Costs

Dealing with property tax issues can also lead to legal costs, as you may need to hire an attorney to help resolve the matter. These costs can further reduce the amount of money you ultimately receive from the sale of your property.

Understanding Property Tax Liens

Understanding Property Tax Liens

When you owe delinquent property taxes for an extended period, local government authorities have the option to place a tax lien on the property. A property tax lien is a legal claim against the property that gives the government the right to collect the unpaid back taxes, interest, and penalties when the property is sold. Here’s what you need to know about tax liens:

a. Priority of Tax Liens

One crucial aspect of tax liens is their priority in the hierarchy of claims against a property. In most cases, tax liens take priority over other liens and mortgages, meaning they must be satisfied before any other creditors or debt obligations can be paid from the sale proceeds. This can significantly affect the outcome of a property sale, as the tax lien holder will receive their share before other parties.

b. Effects on Property Owners

For property owners, a tax lien can have severe implications. It can hinder your ability to sell the property, refinance your mortgage loan amount, or take out a home equity loan. Additionally, tax liens are often reported to credit bureaus, negatively impacting your credit score and making it challenging to secure credit in the future.

c. Initiating the Sale Process

When selling property with a tax lien, the sales process can become more complex. You’ll need to work with the tax authority to obtain a payoff amount, which includes the unpaid taxes, interest, and any penalties. This amount must be settled from the proceeds of the sale before you receive any funds.

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d. Resolving Tax Liens

There are several ways to resolve tax liens when selling a property:

i. Paying Off the Lien: The most straightforward option is to pay off the tax lien in full from the proceeds of the sale. This will clear the lien from the property title.

ii. Negotiating with the Tax Authority: Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to negotiate with the tax authority to set up a payment plan or a payment agreement to request a reduction in the amount of owed taxes. This can be particularly helpful if you are facing financial hardship.

iii. Short Sale: If you owe more on your mortgage than the property’s current value and cannot cover the full tax lien amount because there is not enough equity, you may consider a short sale. In this case, the lender may agree to accept less than the full mortgage balance, and the tax lien would be paid as part of the settlement.

e. Impact on Buyers

Buyers are typically cautious when considering properties with tax liens, as they understand that the lien can complicate the purchase process. Lenders may be hesitant to provide financing for such properties, and buyers may worry about potential delays or complications in obtaining clear title.

f. Consult with Professionals

Dealing with tax liens can be legally and financially complex. It’s strongly advisable to consult with a real estate attorney or a tax professional who can provide guidance on the best approach to resolve tax lien issues when selling your property.

Options for Selling a Property with Taxes

Options for Selling a Property with Taxes

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to sell your house with taxes owed, you do have some options:

a. Pay Off the Taxes

The most straightforward option is to pay off the tax debt in full before selling the house. This will ensure that the tax lien is removed, and the sale can proceed without any property tax lien-related complications. You can use the proceeds from the sale or other available funds to settle the tax debt directly.

b. Negotiate with the Tax Authority

In some cases, you may be able to negotiate with the tax authority to pay the money owed in taxes, set up a payment plan or request a reduction in the amount of money owed. Tax authorities may be willing to work with you to resolve the issue, especially if you can demonstrate financial hardship.

c. Escrow Account

Another option is to create an escrow account where a portion of the sale proceeds is held to cover the outstanding tax debt. This can provide assurance to the buyer and their lender that the tax debt will be paid from the proceeds of the sale.

d. Sell to a Real Estate Investor

Investors or a cash buyer who specializes in distressed properties may be willing to purchase your home, even if it has outstanding tax debt. They often have experience dealing with such situations and may be more flexible with the tax debts and negotiating the terms of the sale.

e. Consult with a Real Estate Attorney

Before proceeding with the sale of a property with taxes owed, it’s advisable to consult with a real estate attorney who can provide guidance on the tax liability and best course of action. They can help you navigate the legal and financial complexities involved in such a sale.

In conclusion, selling a house with back taxes is a complex process that requires careful consideration of various factors. It’s crucial to address any outstanding property tax payments or issues promptly to avoid legal consequences and financial setbacks. Exploring your options and seeking professional advice when needed can help you make informed decisions and ensure a smooth sale process.

FAQ-Can you sell your house if you owe property taxes?

  1. Can I sell my house if I owe IRS back taxes?
    • Absolutely, you can sell your house with IRS back taxes, but it’s crucial to settle the tax debt to clear any potential issues like tax liens before the home sale.
  2. Can I sell a house if I haven’t filed taxes in years?
    • Certainly, you can sell your home even if you haven’t filed taxes in years. However, it’s important to handle any outstanding tax returns and liabilities prior to the sale.
  3. Does the IRS release a lien after ten years?
    • Typically, the IRS releases a tax lien after ten years if it remains unpaid and isn’t renewed. For specific cases, consulting a tax professional is advisable.
  4. Can the IRS seize proceeds from the sale of a home?
    • Yes, the IRS can seize proceeds when you sell a house if there’s an outstanding tax lien on the property. Clearing the lien is necessary before receiving sale proceeds.
  5. Is it possible to sell my house with back taxes in Texas?
    • Absolutely, you can sell a house with back taxes in Texas. However, it’s vital to resolve the tax debt and associated liens before finalizing the sale.


The content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. We are not attorneys or tax professionals. For personalized legal or tax advice, please consult with a qualified professional.

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