What Happens If I Don't Pay Property Taxes in Texas?

If you fall behind in paying property taxes in Texas, you'll eventually lose your home in a tax foreclosure sale.

If you get behind in paying your real property taxes in the state of Texas, you might lose your home to a tax foreclosure. Fortunately, you’ll find out about the foreclosure sale before it happens and you’ll have the chance to get current on the delinquent amounts (plus interest and costs) to prevent the loss of your home. Even if you let the foreclosure go through all the way to sale, you’ll get some time afterwards to buy it back.

Texas Tax Foreclosure Process

If you don’t pay your real property taxes in Texas, the overdue amount (including interest and penalties) becomes a lien on your home. (Learn about your options to avoid a tax sale if you can’t keep up with the taxes.)

At any time after the property tax becomes delinquent, the taxing authority may start a foreclosure in court (Tex. Tax Code § 33.41). If you don’t pay off the overdue amounts (or have a valid defense to the foreclosure), the court will enter a judgment and your home will be sold to a new owner. If the home does not sell at the tax sale, it will be "struck-off" to the county. This basically means the county gets the property and will try to sell it at a later date.

Notice of the Foreclosure Sale

Under Texas law, you must be given written notice of the sale before it takes place. Typically, you’ll get the notice by personal delivery or in the mail. The notice will include the date, time, and location of the sale (Tex. Tax Code § 34.01).

The notice is also published in a newspaper or, if there is no newspaper in your county, posted publicly (Tex. Tax Code § 34.01).

Your Right to Cure the Delinquency

To stop the foreclosure, you can “cure” the delinquency by paying off the amount of the judgment at any time prior to the sale. This will release the tax lien and halt the foreclosure process (Tex. Tax Code § 33.53).

Sale

If you don't cure the delinquency, your home will be sold at a public auction to the highest bidder. The minimum bid must be:

  • the total amount of the judgment (which includes the owed taxes, interest, penalties, and costs), or
  • the market value of the home (Tex. Tax Code § 34.01).

The winning bidder (or the county, if no one buys the home at the sale) then gets a deed (title) to your home, subject to your right of redemption.

You Can Redeem the Home After the Sale

In some states, homeowners get a period of time after a tax sale to buy back or “redeem” the home. In Texas, in most cases, you can redeem the home at any time up to two years after the date the deed is filed in the county records (Tex. Tax Code § 34.21).

To redeem, you’ll generally have to reimburse the high bidder for the purchase price that he or she paid at the tax sale plus various additional amounts. (Learn more in Getting Your Home Back After a Property Tax Sale in Texas.)

How to Find Texas’ Tax Foreclosure Laws

If you want to read Texas’ tax foreclosure statutes, look in the Texas Tax Code, Chapter 34, § § 34.01 through 34.23.

To find the Texas Tax Code, go to www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us. (If you need help finding the statutes, see Nolo’s Legal Research FAQs & Basic Info area.)

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