HOUSTON - For most people, tax season ended in April, but the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office is still hard at work going after those who are way overdue.
It’s an issue that affects even the more than 98 percent of Harris County property owners who pay their taxes on time because the money pays for police, fire, schools, and infrastructure.
On Thursday, Mike Sullivan, Harris County's Tax Assessor-Collector had a message: Pay up, or he and the Constable's Office just might show up.
That's what happened Thursday morning in southwest Houston.
Sullivan and deputy constables made a surprise visit to the Slow Dough Bread Company. Sullivan says the bakery owes just over $13,000 in back taxes, fees and interest since last year and had been warned repeatedly through phone calls, mail, and in-person visits.
His office also said each year since 2012, the company has paid their taxes late.
However, Thomas Massey, the bakery’s Director of Operations, said he had no idea the business owed the money but will work with his accountant and owner to make sure it doesn't happen again.
He also immediately went to the bank and came back 20 minutes later with a check paying off the amount in full.
"We're better at baking bread clearly than we are at financial communication,” said Massey. “We fully own that. But that being said, we'll do better in the future."
Sullivan said when he and the deputy constables show up, the owners have paid up every single time and believes “public shaming” is a tactic that works.
In the month since publishing the Top 10 Tax Delinquents list in August, Sullivan says they’ve brought in several hundred thousand dollars.
In all, Sullivan’s office says all of the jurisdictions they collect for are owed $290 million, with $60 million owed to Harris County alone.