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For Ohio's snowbirds, a late property tax bill is no excuse

This time of year, many older Ohioans are living thousands of miles away, fleeing the cold and the snow of winter in Florida, Arizona or other warm-weather destinations. For those with the time and the means, this can be a pleasurable way to spend part of the year, before the spring thaw, at which time they return to Ohio.

Being a snowbird has important tax implications, depending on which state you establish residency in. But no matter where your primary residence is, if you own real estate in Ohio you must pay tax on it.

The due date for property taxes depends on the county. In Lucas County, first half real estate taxes were due Jan. 31, and second half taxes are due July 31. This means the payment must be paid or postmarked by those dates.

Most people who spend the winter out of state get their mail forwarded to their vacation residence. But delays in receiving forwarded mail are common. And if your property tax bill does not arrive promptly, that can be a real problem.

Over in Medina County, where first half property taxes are due Feb. 12, County Treasurer John Burke told the Cleveland Plain Dealer his office received complaints from snowbirds last year that their tax bills were not arriving on time. He blamed cutbacks at the U.S. Postal Service, and noted that Ohio law states that property owners must pay their taxes on time, whether or not they receive a paper bill.

Someone with a hefty delinquent tax bill hanging over them can use the help of a tax attorney to deal with the authorities.

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