Jan 31, 2023 - News

Beware of muggings while paying Austin taxes

Illustration of a heavy golden house, glimmering.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Time to get out that e-check and send a chunk of your cash to the local tax collector.

Driving the news: If you're a homeowner, Jan. 31 is the property tax deadline.

Why it matters: Property taxes pay for everything from city pothole repairs to teacher salaries.

Between the lines: Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector Bruce Elfant is urging property owners to pay their property taxes online.

  • The Travis County Sheriff's Office is investigating nine open cases of tax office customers who had their property tax payments stolen from the mail in the 2021 tax year, Elfant said.

What they're saying: Citing jugging, the new crime trend involving mugging people as they move from an ATM to their car, Elfant also warns people against delivering cash to the tax office.

  • "Fortunately, our message to avoid payment through the mail has resonated with our customers but, unfortunately, many of them are choosing to bring cash to the tax office and they are running the risk of falling victim to jugging," he said.

Yes, but: So far, there are no reports of tax office customers being accosted and robbed of their property tax payment, Elfant said.

How to do it: You can pay in person, by phone, mail (postmarked Tuesday), dropbox, or electronic funds transfer — but Elfant encourages payment with an eCheck, for an additional $1, at TravisCountyTax.org.

  • You can pay online until 11:59pm tonight.
  • "But be aware it is not unusual for our online system to slow down the closer it gets to the deadline because too many people try to pay at the same time," Elfant said, warning of penalties for late payments.

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