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by Rafe
Fri Apr 05, 2019 4:15 pm
Forum: 2019 Texas Legislative Session
Topic: Property taxes
Replies: 60
Views: 3006

Re: Property taxes

Just a recent cautionary tale. I worked overseas for a while last year and thought I had all my home mail forwarding to a rental UPS PO box. My neighborhood has those community standalone boxes shared by a couple of dozen houses. USPS does not/will not deliver directly to the home, only to those small roughly 4"x9" boxes.

Sooo... The mail wasn't being forwarded to the UPS box after all, and once the little neighborhood box filled up the USPS carrier stuck in a little note saying that delivery of mail is suspended due to it not being picked up and I had 45 days to get it from the post office...which notice I found when I got home, about a month after the notice was left.

The county tax assessor sent me the usual annual property tax update for 2018. And the USPS returned it as undeliverable. Turns out that there is a standing policy in Harris County (I imagine in other counties, too) that if any single piece of mail comes back like that, they flag you as not living in the house at all and removing your homestead exemption. Fought it every which way I could, but I was up against the property tax deadline. They said my only option to not go into late penalties was to pay the taxes as shown and then submit paperwork filing for a homestead exemption all over again and requesting that my 2018 taxation amount be adjusted to reinstate the exemption...after which, supposedly, the school district will get the notice and both the county and the district would cut me a refund check.

The amount I had to pay over the amount I paid for 2017? Right at $2,000. Expected to pay almost $4,000 and ended up almost $6,000 out of pocket. Ouch. Paid the taxes, filed all the paperwork certified mail. It's April 5, so the county has had the paperwork for just a couple days shy of two months. And here I sit still $2,000 poorer than I'd budgeted to be.

Don't know about everybody else, but with those community mailboxes I see every week how inefficient the USPS has become. My neighbors and I get mail addressed to each other almost weekly. I also live on a "Road" and there's a street with an almost identical name that's a "Drive" but in a zip code about 12 miles from me. That almost matching address is the gas station in front of a Sam's Club. I get mail addressed to them a few times a year, and I'm sure they get some of mine. That the tax assessor could have a hard and fast rule that any one single piece of returned mail equals revoking homestead exemption seems pretty absurd in this day and age when the USPS is losing money hand over fist, raising postage rates, carrying much less mail, and doing a poorer job of it. The tax assessor's office will not use email or a telephone. Surface mail via USPS only...as if it's 1940. But the tax assessor thing is a policy, not a law or regulation. So can't get it changed by legislation. But I started a letter campaign to see if I could get to someone in the county that would listen. :mad5

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