EL PASO - The clock is ticking people who haven't paid their property taxes yet hope to avoid paying a big penalty.
Those who don't pay by 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, will start to see the fees adding up.
To make sure not you are not getting hit with extra fees, property taxes can be paid by phone by calling (915) 212-0106, but there will be a 1.98 percent convenience fee added for using a credit card. Property taxes can also be paid by mail with a check or money order as long as your payment is postmarked by tomorrow's deadline.
The City Tax Office on the third floor of the Wells Fargo building Downtown is the most popular place to pay property taxes. But there are alternatives, including paying at branch or annex offices located near Ascarate at 301 Manny Martinez Dr.; on the East Side at 2350 George Dieter Blvd.; in Northwest El Paso at 435 E. Vinton Road; in the Northeast at 4641 Cohen Ave.; at Fort Bliss' Welcome Center, Building 505; and in Ysleta at 9521 Socorro Road.
If property taxes are not paid in full by Jan. 31, property owners will immediately be assessed a 7 percent penalty for February payments. In March, that goes up to 9 percent; 11 percent in April; 13 percent in May; and a whopping 15 percent penalty in June.
With just over 24 hours left before the deadline, the line Monday afternoon at the city's main tax office inside the Wells Fargo building Downtown not only snaked through the third floor office where property taxes are paid, but also all along the first floor in two different areas, where many had to wait just to get upstairs to the tax office.
"It's going to be very busy," El Paso Tax Assessor-Collector Maria Pasillas said. "Last year, we had lines out the building, so we encourage people to take advantage of all the payment options that we have. By the end of January we receive 78 percent approximately of the levy that we billed in October and by the end of the year it's approximately 98 and a half percent."
That means more than 20 percent of those who own property in El Paso County, or one in five, don't pay property taxes by the deadline, resulting in at least a 7 percent penalty, which can really add up.
The largest part of the property tax bill comes from the school districts. The highest rate is for property in the Canutillo Independent School District, which is set at $1.53 per $100 valuation of a home. The Ysleta school district with at $1.47 per $100 valuation; the Clint district is third at $1.40; Socorro is fourth at $1.27; and EPISD has the lowest rate at $1.23 per $100 valuation of the property.