Being retaxed for prior year - Help

I bought some property with an existing home built in 2002 on it in the fall of 2003. I got Title Ins. and all standard stuff. at close. Taxes were estimated and prorated at close. County never had Home listed in valuation for 2003 so only land was taxed. I paid 2004 taxes for house/home. Just got a letter showing we are now delinquent for 2003 taxes! There was nothing on my 2004 bill about anything delinquent and they have never sent another letter.
Can they do this? Somehow new home was sold to first owner and county never got in in tax records until I bought it from them the next year.

I suspect that you have grounds for an appeal to the county taxing authority if the delinquent tax covers periods prior to your ownership. It is not uncommon in my area to have newly developed land taxed as undeveloped (perhaps agricultural use) and prorated as such at settlement, then reassessed as developed property for the next tax year. It is the sale (and deed recording) that triggers a reassessment.

Doing nothing, however, may get your property sold out from under you at the next delinquent property tax sale.

I appreciate the comments. So far the County is pretty much saying it is our problem and to deal with it… Title Co. about the same, but they will sit down and discuss it next week.
Here is how it happened.:
Prev. owner makes a deal to build house on a lot owned by someone else and gets a lone which builds house and buys the lot… County doesn’t figure it out until we buy the property over a year later and they call us on the phone asking about the property. After 1 year plus and taxes paid for current year they say taxes for year before last are past due… I know they County Tax Appraisal people can be really Anal and I am thinking I may have to at least threaten with a lawsuit. If we had not told them we were living on a house on this property they may have never figured it out, which begs the question, how far back can they legally go and reasess taxes because they are so clueless? Seems lpretty unreasonable to me… I suspect we will have to get beyond the “clerks” at the County or the Title Co. resolve this… I also wonder if they R.E. agent wouldn’t maybe be liable in this, I did point it out to them when we bought that the Tax records only showed being taxed on the property and no building. Of course they dismissed it like any [u] used car salesman[/u] would only looking for that next commission and screw everything else…

The letter you received should tell you how to challenge the bill if you think it is in error. You need to follow the instructions.

Your attorney’s likely position is that the county should waive the taxes and any penalties for a retroactive reassessment. Of course, you will gladly pay the new tax bill for the current tax year.

Dave, I have calls in to the County Attorneys over this matter. Talking to the Appraisers and the Assesor/Collector people just goes in circles… Collector says if the appraise it and enter it, it has to be collected… Appraiser says it was there so the appraisal is correct… I hink I have found an out though. I have been reading the Texas Property Tax code and it basically says in Sec. 32.07 that property taxes are the personal obligation of the person who owns the property on Jan. 1 for the year the tax is imposed. In other words, the way I read it is that since I bought in oct 2003, the previous owner will have to pay thew, not me! Of course previous owner may have recourse against me because of Sales Contract etc, but I think it likely she may have to take me to court to get me to pay and that probably won’t happen.

Isn’t the internet wonderfull! Texas Property Tax codes online!

If the county does not collect the property taxes they feel owed, you still risk having your property sold out from under you in a delinquent property tax sale.

I see that this is still your problem to make go away even though you don’t feel you should be personally liable for the back taxes.

Dave, You may be right. I talked with one County Atty. he claims section 32 of the Texas tax code applies mostly to “Mfg. Housing”. I don’t see that referred to anywhere in the section. I think I am going to seek out an attorney before I give up. It shouldn’t cost that much to ask.
Appreciate all your comments. I was at least hoping to get them to lower them considerably.

What? Is that true? You better ask the professionals for your problem. They can help you to solve your problem.

filing back taxes

I would read all the fine print in your Title Insurance Policy, too. Taxes should have been prorated when you purchased.

Was the Title Policy insuring the land only, without improvements? Talk to your Title officer, they may be at fault.