Property tax bills catch homeowners off guard
LAKE HAVASU CITY – A change in state law is causing some confusion among citizens who are receiving a property tax statement in the mail for the first time.
Senate Bill 1033 was signed into law by Governor Doug Ducey in May, but the effects of the law are just starting to show up.
Under the new law, county treasurers are required to mail a statement of taxes due on a property to a person or business that has mortgaged the property – even if they are not the ones responsible for paying the taxes.
Property taxes are frequently paid by the lender while the owner is still paying off a mortgage.
Mohave County mailed out its property tax statements in September as usual, according to Mohave County Treasurer Cindy Landa Cox, but many property owners who were receiving those statements for the first time under the change in law were caught off guard.
“Property owners with mortgages were confused and our call volume increased significantly with questions of why they got a statement,” Cox said.
Previously property tax statements were only required to be sent to owners of mortgaged properties upon request.
“The intent was for property owners with mortgages to have written documentation of their property taxes,” Cox said.
“The Arizona County Treasurers Association (ACTA) opposed this change as property tax statements are available online, some counties already send them to every property owner and prefer having the option not to send; and these property owners already had the right to request a copy under the existing law. Unfortunately, there was a strong push from outside (lobbying contingent) that made it impossible for ACTA to win any fight,” the county treasurer continued.
In essence, anyone receiving a property tax statement from Mohave County for the first time is likely not on the hook for paying those taxes themselves, unless they have recently paid off their mortgage or bought a property outright.
“Property owners with mortgages need to contact their lenders to find out if the lender pays their property taxes on their behalf,” Cox said.
“It is most common for mortgaged property loans to include principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI).”