TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) – For those struggling financially during the pandemic, a bigger deadline threatens this year.
Monday is the last day property taxes are paid for the past year without receiving a penalty.
According to the Travis County Tax Office, fewer people paid their taxes in the past year compared to that time. From Thursday the collection rate was 70%. Last year around this time it was 74%.
Tax advisor Bruce Elfant says it’s hard to say how much tax revenue will fall. He expects his office to handle a lot of last minute payments. He added that there are a few other factors such as mail delays and mortgage companies paying later this year.
Still, the need for help is obvious. The Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office received 15,000 more calls than usual in December 2020 compared to the same month last year from taxpayers asking for payment plans.
Elfant says his office offers payment plans, but the longer someone has a plan, the more penalties and interest they will pay.
Since the last sping, he has been calling on Governor Greg Abbott to waive penalties and interest for those who are in arrears with their taxes. Although there was no answer, Elfant said the state lawmakers have an interest in this legislature.
“I worry about the restaurants, barbershop, and music venues that really rely on revenue to pay all of their bills,” Elfant said.
In preparation for this year’s revenue squeeze, the city of Austin has set a tax rate of 97.5% when the normal tax rate is 99% or more. That’s roughly $ 8.7 million less revenue than the city would normally bring in.
Travis County said it prepared for the lost revenue by introducing a hiring freeze that the commissioner’s court extended through the end of the year. A spokesman added the county had made savings through a smaller prison population.