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Tax official sends partial government shutdown letter to legislators

January 23, 2019

The Cameron County Tax Assessor-Collector is asking three Rio Grande Valley legislators to ask Texas Governor Greg Abbott to declare the partial government shutdown an emergency and allow the Legislature to draft a bill that would shield unpaid federal workers from penalties and interest on their 2018 property taxes.

"This office has received several calls from Federal workers that have been affected by the Federal Government shutdown regarding their ability to pay their 2018 property taxes which will become delinquent if not paid by January 31, 2019," Tax Assessor-Collector Tony Yzaguirre Jr. wrote in the letter he sent to State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. and State Reps. Eddie Lucio III and Alex Dominguez.

The federal government partially shutdown on Dec. 22 after President Donald Trump declined to sign bipartisan legislation to keep the government open because it did not include $5.7 billion for a border wall. Since then, Democrats have sparred with Trump over their opposition to including border wall funding in legislation to re-open the government. The partial shutdown has now lasted 33 days.

"As the elected tax assessor-collector of this county I feel it is my responsibility to find a way to somehow assist these individuals that have not been paid since the federal shutdown began," Yzaguirre said. "Payments of property taxes are not dictated by current events or even natural disasters."

In the letter he says he must follow the property tax laws as stated in Texas Property Tax Code and the state’s constitution, which obligate him to issue penalties for delinquent property taxes on Feb. 1, which include a 7 percent penalty and interest if paid in February, a 9 percent penalty and interest in March and the continued accumulation of additional penalties and interest until paid.

"We have no authority to assist in this kind of issue, so I am hereby calling on our elected State Officials to help find some kind of solution to assist our taxpayers in this matter which was not created by our taxpayers," Yzaguirre said.

His letter includes a draft to change the Texas Tax Code that would protect workers who are not being paid during the partial government shutdown.

mreagan@brownsvilleherald.com

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