A Look at What Caused Our Property Tax Problem in Mexico

Source: Q-Roo Paul

For those of you who didn’t read my article titled The Dangers of Paying Your Property Taxes Online, here’s a rundown to get you up to speed:

Linda and I have a condo located inside the municipality of Tulum, Mexico. Each year, the city offers a discount to people who pay their property taxes early.

Being a couple of thrifty retirees, we took advantage of the deal and paid via the city’s online pay system. The system issued us a receipt complete with a tracking number. We printed it and filed it away.

Last week, one of our neighbors sent out an email warning people about paying their property taxes online. He said that the municipality doesn’t always update the system, so it’s better to do it in person.

I stopped by the Palacio Municipal to confirm that they received my payment and pick up some sort of written confirmation. That’s when I discovered that although they had received the payment on time, they never manually marked the account as paid.

The clerk said that since the discount was no longer offered, the system showed that I owed the difference between the discount and the full amount. She gave me two options: 1) pay the difference, or 2) file a written appeal to the director.

I chose option #2 and submitted a handwritten appeal in Spanish. They provided me with this template: carta de apelación.

Today, I went down to the Palacio Municipal and the clerk said that my appeal had been granted. I signed a couple of papers and she gave me a stamped receipt showing that my 2018 property taxes were paid in full.

What Went Wrong?

Although I was happy to have the matter resolved, I still wasn’t sure what went wrong. I decided to ask her a few more questions about the online pay system and the correct procedure to follow in the future.

Her responses revealed several flaws in their system.

Although people can pay their property taxes via the online portal and receive an electronic receipt, the system does not automatically mark the account as paid. A person still has to go into the account and manually do that. The problem is that the system is not set up to notify the clerks whenever a payment is made.

Here’s the kicker: If the clerk does not mark the account paid in time, the system automatically removes the discount and the clerk doesn’t have the authority to override it — hence the need for the written appeal.

I asked her what people who pay online should do to prevent this from happening and she gave me two options:

1) Bring the proof of online payment to the Palacio Municipal and get a stamped receipt, or

2) Send it via email to predial.tulum@gmail.com.

The most important thing is to do this before the discount expires.

I pointed out that nowhere on their website does it say any of this. She smiled and said, “I know.”

I asked her what would have happened if I had never stopped by the Palacio Municipal to check on this matter. She said that the outstanding balance would have been added to my 2019 property taxes.

At this point, I thanked her for her assistance and headed out the door confident in the knowledge that I would be paying my taxes in person next December.

Let’s Wrap This Up

This situation annoyed and frustrated me, but in the grand scheme of things, it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

In the end, everything worked out fine and I learned a valuable lesson about relying solely on technology to get things done in Mexico.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border. The blog has been viewed over two million times and the articles have been republished in numerous periodicals across Mexico.

20 Comments on "A Look at What Caused Our Property Tax Problem in Mexico"

  1. Great article once again. Any chance you made a copy of that appeal letter? I’ll be taking care of this on Monday.

    • I was thinking of adding the template to this article. I should have that done by tomorrow at the latest.

  2. Paying anything online is fraught with possible problems. Several government entities in Mexico, have issued warnings from time to time about paying online. Some accept online payments, some don’t. There are many phishers and fraudsters out there that can make an online payment website that looks legit, but is not. And then there is the risk of posting your credit card number, and personal info, and the possibility of identity theft, and credit card abuse. I have been living in the Riviera Maya for over 20 years, and I never make a payment online. Nowadays, you can usually go to an OXXO, WALMART, or a mall kiosk etc. and pay everything you need to in person easily, and thereby save yourself from possible future hassles. Taxes are another animal. Mexican bureaucracy can be a challenge in the best of times.

  3. It is too easy to walk in and pay your taxes. Then we go pay our water bill for the year.

  4. Pabo (Patti & Bob) | February 16, 2018 at 10:39 am |

    We live full time in PV (and are retired) so we do have an advantage of being able to pay bills conveniently and in person. We just consider it an “outing” and kind of fun to walk to pay our utilities every month and the “once a year” ritual of paying our bank trust and property taxes. We did everything online and had automatic payments when we lived in the US but since we moved here it feels a little like going back in time!

  5. Hola, Paul.

    We have a similar system here in Los Cabos. We pay our property taxes online and receive a proof of payment. We then print that document and email it to them. They will then send back an official factura (receipt) showing a zero balance. We send our proof of payment to: Pagosdireccioningresos@loscabos.gob.mx.

    Never had a problem. And it saves hours each year of sitting around waiting in line.

  6. I wonder where I would email an online receipt. I live in Mahahual? I have paid for years online without a problem that I am aware of but I will check this years payment now that you mentioned it.

  7. Kim de Chan Chemuyilito | February 16, 2018 at 1:20 pm |

    I have made online payments of taxes in Tulum for a couple of years with no problems. I did it again in December and got the discount. When your first story on this came out the other day, I went online and looked at my account just to make sure, and it says, I owe nothing, no balance due. I trust that next year the amount will not reflect a balance due carried forward. So, maybe the problem is an inconsistent one, or maybe the problem only arises when asking for a receipt in person, after the discount has expired? I guess time will tell. For me, the discount is not big enough for the hassle of a couple of trips to Tulum and all that paperwork!

  8. Mexico is passionately in love with paperwork and all things beaurocratic

  9. I’d like to know if anyone has similar caveats about paying utility bills online!

  10. This is great advise. Me and my wife just bought a brand new house (well, not built yet tell Sept of this year) in Merida Mexico. This whole 8 days we have been running around like a chicken without a head as I am re: discovering the old School methods of banking, notari, copies of this form, copies of that form, immigration, and the list goes on and um tech is not your friend here unlike the states. lol!! GREAT exercise though as most of it with the exception of renting a car in merida and then now in Gadalarja walking miles to get the rest of our business trip wrapped up! I would say anything legal wise, will take you a whole day or week to complete! It’s weird with the banking methods here. Opened up a checking at HSBC took 2 hours. But, they give you all the paperwork and debit card but you have to wait 24hrs to deposit your money?!?! And oh, PESOS only. They won’t exchange American dollars.

    Thank you so much for all the wonderful advise you have posted!! It’s been stored and used in our process….

  11. Greg Schiffer | February 18, 2018 at 3:38 pm |

    My wife and are considering moving to Mexico in the next 22 months .and I enjoyed ready your blog great info and wonderful advice we are looking in Cozumel to reside we spend some time in playa and Cozumel we really like cozumel better little more low key ..any opinions are welcome

    • Thanks for following the blog. Playa is a pretty busy place nowadays, so I don’t blame you for looking at going to Cozumel instead.

      We chose not to live on Cozumel or Isla Mujeres because we didn’t want to have to ferry our car back and forth in order to explore the mainland or go to Cosco.

  12. Hi Greg Schiffer,
    The extra charges of a government on the purchasing of property in the form of general country tax can be eliminate easily with in a seven days according to the rules and regulations of a government,If you write an application with the authentic reasons for a elimination of property tax and also attached a legal documents of a property tax pairs after that submitted in the government office by the tax layers which is helpful for you to approved the claim of your property tax in the seven days without any allegations of a government on the application of your property tax ,Remember don’t write any irreverent reasons in the applications of property tax you want to submit in the office of government and also don’t attached any illegal or extra document of property which increase the chances to refuse or neglect your claim application ,So keep it in your mind all the instructions and requirements given to you by the tax layer after concerning this kind of matter according to the current policy of government .

  13. Stephanie Council | April 11, 2018 at 2:04 pm |

    Hi Paul! I have a US based client with rental property in Tulum. I am trying to find an accountant to file her Mexican taxes and am having difficulty finding a bilingual accountant. Any suggestions or referrals? Much appreciated!

Comments are closed.