County consolidates tax collection: Harlingen, ISDs now part of centralized system

A view of the Cameron County Tax Assessor-Collector collection location’s drive-thru lanes Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 2, 2022, in downtown Brownsville. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

Cameron County has completed its consolidation of tax collections with the signing of an interlocal agreement between the commissioners court and the county tax assessor-collector’s office and the city of Harlingen, Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District, Los Fresnos CISD and Rio Hondo Independent School District that gives the assessor-collector’s office authority to collect taxes on behalf of those entities.

The county’s consolidation of tax collections countywide — an innovation forced by the pandemic — earned it a 2022 National Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties earlier this year.

“Consolidation eliminates duplication of services, saving entities tax dollars and making it easier for taxpayers to pay at one centralized location,” said county Tax Assessor-Collector Tony Yzaguirre Jr. “Cameron County taxpayers can now pay their property taxes at any of our 10 locations countywide, or they can pay their property taxes at any of the seven county depositing Lone Star National Bank locations countywide.”

The assessor-collector’s office now has a five-lane drive-through location at 199 S. Sam Houston Blvd. in San Benito and a six-lane drive-through at 300 E. Van Buren St. in Harlingen. Also, an additional drive-through lane has been added to the Los Fresnos Tax Office.

A full list of tax office branches, including drive-throughs, can be found at Taxes may also be paid through the website.

Harlingen and the ISDs joins 43 taxing districts and 41 street light and assessment district the assessor-collector’s office is currently collecting for. Tax notices go out to all county taxpayers this week, and the assessor-collector’s office will assume all current 2022 and delinquent tax-collection accounts, he said. Nearly 217,000 2022 tax statements were mailed the first week of October for personal property and real estate accounts, Yzaguirre said, adding that the total levee for 2022 on all taxing jurisdictions is nearly $518 million.

He urged taxpayers to take advantage of early-payment tax discounts property owners who pay early in certain districts — 3 percent for those who pay in October, 2 percent for November and 1 percent for December. Taxes for the 2022 tax year become due on Jan. 31 and become delinquent on Feb. 1.

“Property owners who cannot pay their taxes in full can take advantage of various payment plan options, and/or make partial payments at any of the 10 tax office branch locations,” Yzaguirre said. “Arrangements should be made as soon as possible to ensure that taxes are paid in full, or a substantial amount has been paid by January of 2023 to avoid any added penalties and interest.”