If you received a tax statement in October from McLennan County Tax Assessor Randy Riggs, followed by a less-than-subtle reminder from Waco attorney Robert Meyers that you still have not paid your taxes, a lawsuit might be in your future.

Riggs’ office turned over its annual delinquent taxpayers list to Meyers and another firm hired by taxing entities to collect their unpaid taxes this month. Meyers, of McCreary, Veselka, Bragg & Allen law firm, has filed 117 tax lawsuits so far this year.

Last year, Meyers filed about 300 tax lawsuits, he said. Taxes are due when notices are sent out in October and become delinquent Feb. 1, when penalties and interest, which increase monthly, are added on.

“We will file as many lawsuits as it takes to get the taxes collected,” Meyers said.

He said taxing entities have collected 96% or 97% of their taxes so far and predicted a 98% collection rate by September.

“The entities in general are experiencing strong collections of their property taxes,” Meyers said. “Each year, fewer and fewer taxes go delinquent, and I think that is a healthy sign of a strong economy and that most businesses and property owners in the area are able to pay their taxes before they are referred to law firms like ourselves.”

Besides filing lawsuits, Meyers’ firm also has posted 132 properties for tax foreclosure sale. Of those, 32 were foreclosed on and sold; eight were deeded to taxing authorities, becoming what are known as “struck-off properties”; and the rest of the owners made payment arrangements or paid off the taxes, Meyers said.

Riggs said the city of Waco, technically, tops the list of largest delinquent taxpayers in McLennan County because of the struck-off properties, parcels the city acquires in lawsuits to collect taxes. After getting a judgment, the city forecloses on the property and tries to sell it in monthly auctions on the courthouse steps. If no one wants it, the city acquires the land, becomes the trustee and markets it for sale. The taxes are paid when someone buys the property.

“We don’t want the property and we don’t want to sell the property because if we sell it on the courthouse steps, we will get our taxes, but property owners will not be made whole,” Riggs said. “We would feel better if they would sell it, and they could make more money than we would. But if they don’t take care of business, then that is why we are here and we are going to step in and preserve the right of the public.”

Yakoob S. Ali, owner of an abandoned gas station at 2110 E. Waco Drive, tops the current list of delinquent taxpayers. Ali has paid no taxes on the property in about 17 years and owes $212,756 in taxes, penalties and interest.

Meyers has filed several tax suits against Ali and multiple attempts have been made to sell the property. But the amount of back taxes, the expense of removing underground gasoline tanks and other environmental issues likely have deterred buyers, Riggs said.

Ali could not be reached for comment.

Patriot Homes, the bankrupt mobile home manufacturer formerly at 1801 W. Loop 340, owes $156,268 in back taxes, while Aalmark Roofing, which went out of business at 5617 Plantation Drive in 2013, owes $147,487, according to tax office records.

Also making the list is Star Construction Services, 3809 Memorial Drive, which owes $144,696 and has an active lawsuit; and W.H. and Littles Sons Mortuary, 601 Ashburn St., which owes $141,243.

Myrtle Littles, who is married to owner Glenn Littles, said she was unaware of the tax situation and referred questions to her husband. Glenn Littles did not return a phone message left at his business.

Meyers said he has worked with Littles for a number of years on his tax problems. He said he won a court judgment against Littles in 2015 for $66,560, which has gone unpaid. Tax records show Littles made a $527 payment in September 2016 toward the unpaid balance.

A China Spring strip center owned by SMAR properties at 10207 China Spring Road owes $108,141 in back taxes, while a Valero store at 1001 Enterprise Blvd. in Hewitt owned by Global Golden owes $66,303, according to tax records.

Store Master Funding VI LLC, owners of the building that formerly housed the infamous Twin Peaks restaurant, site of a deadly 2015 biker shootout, and later Scotty’s Brewhouse in the Central Texas Marketplace, escaped the scofflaw list by paying $146,349 in back taxes, penalties and interest on June 24.

The owners of Louisiana Crab Shack announced last month that they plan to open a new restaurant in the 7,000-square-foot building at 4671 S. Jack Kultgen Expressway this summer.

Likewise, Caddo Investments, owners of the building at 4017 S. Jack Kultgen Expressway, home of Carl’s Jr., paid a late tax bill of $64,897 on June 30, records show.

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Staff writer at the Waco Tribune-Herald covering courts and criminal justice. Follow me on Twitter @TSpoonFeed.

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