Property taxes due Friday causing hardship amid COVID-19 pandemic

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The anxiety level is ramping up for homeowners and business owners who are facing huge property tax bills that must be paid by April 10.

Property taxes on homes are paid with the mortgage payment if you have a lender escrow account.

But many chose to pay on the two-installment plan, which means that’s thousands of dollars due by end of day Friday.

Richard Adkins is a 71-year-old retiree from Oakdale who is waiting for April’s Social Security check. He told FOX40 that the property tax bill is causing a hardship.

“That’ll leave me $500 till the end of the month,” explained Adkins. “So that’s a bad situation.”

Adkins said those who have reduced incomes and business owners shut down during the virus emergency are much worse off than he is.

Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged the hardship and is in talks with county tax collectors about delaying the deadline but has not yet issued an executive order doing so.

The county and its tax collectors are holding firm, saying, “Any delay in payments beyond the April 10 property tax deadline, for individuals or businesses that can pay, will tip local governments into insolvency at a time when our residents need us the most.”

Property tax money goes to schools, cities, counties and special districts that provide emergency services, as well as public health departments that are dealing with COVID-19.

Sacramento County officials told FOX40 that they are not oblivious to the economic hardships faced by property owners in their county, but they say their hands are tied.

“There’s really nothing the counties can do. When taxes are due and when delinquency dates might be, they are all set by the state,” said Laurie Slothower, spokesperson for Sacramento County.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has been urging the governor to use an executive order to have counties waive the 10% penalty for late payment until perhaps June or July when the emergency might subside.

“We’re not saying people shouldn’t pay the taxes,” Jonathan Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, told FOX40.

Coupal said that counties are getting monetary relief from the state and federal government during the crisis.

“They are not willing to share that relief with property owners and we don’t think that’s fair,” explained Coupal.

Currently, penalties and late fees can be waived for those who are too sick to pay but economic hardship is generally not a reason to get a waiver.

Tax collectors in some counties have said they will be liberal in grating hardship waivers of penalties for late tax payments, but others are not.

The inconsistency in enforcement across counties is why some are insisting the governor step in.

Sacramento County said the safest way to pay property taxes is online although counters will be open to make in-person payments.

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