Paying Property Tax for Ownership

It’s common sense that if you own a home or piece of property that you will be required to pay an annual property tax on the asset. However, does paying for property taxes in general on a piece of property make you an owner?

If this sounds confusing, that’s because to many people, it is. There are lots of legalities involved with official ownership of a property in conjunction with paying the annual tax on it.

If your name isn’t on the deed and you’re paying the property tax, here’s everything you need to know about your right to claiming ownership.

What if the Property Belonged to a Family Member?

Let’s take an example where a mother purchased a house. Her family lived in the house with her for years, and sometime later she passed away. Even after death, property taxes must be taken care of, so one of her children continues to make the payments.

Generally, this isn’t enough for a person to claim ownership rights to a property. All states have statutes that must be taken into account and met before ownership rights are deemed legal.

Legally, one cannot live in the property with the permission of the real owner and obtain ownership rights. Just because you “rent” a home, doesn’t make it yours.

The easiest way to obtain ownership rights is through a non-contested will that designates that you own the property, regardless of who makes the property tax payments. Without a will in place, the courts would follow state laws that determine the rightful owner of the property.

Can I Pay Back Taxes on Someone Else’s House?

Yes, you can always pay someone else’s property taxes. However, it is a complete myth that you can pay delinquent taxes on someone else’s property and become the owner. Therefore, there is no benefit to paying someone else’s property taxes with the hope of easy ownership. You couldn’t even deduct these expenses because only the actual owner can claim them.

However, if you are set on claiming a property that has fallen behind on its property tax payments, then you could potentially gain the rights through your state’s law of adverse possession. The requirements necessary to meet this law are:

  • The taxes must be delinquent
  • You must be the only individual paying said taxes
  • The owner cannot once pay their taxes before you’ve finalized your claim

What Are Texas’ Adverse Possession Laws?

Every state has its specifics for adverse possession. In Texas, you can’t move onto unoccupied land and claim the title. In order to occupy with the intent of adverse possession, you must make payments for a minimum of five years and must be in continuous occupancy without the original owner’s objection, or presence.

Have Property Tax Questions? Ask The Hegwood Group for Qualified Answers!

If you’ve been paying property taxes to a property you’re not on the deed for, The Hegwood Group can help you take the necessary steps to rightful ownership. We are property tax consultants that have a true understanding of the situations that may seem impossible to navigate for the average homeowner. Contact us to schedule your free consultation and get your questions answered.

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