A High Price to Pay

An in-depth look at the property tax lender Rio Tax and how they leverage high-interest loans to low-income families.

Investigative, News Story (Texas)

Caelainn Barr, Charlotte Keith
Texas Observer
July 9, 2014
Link to story

Tags: Housing: Landlord-Tenant

Organizations mentioned/involved: Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA)


These high-interest loans are part of a multibillion-dollar industry native only to Texas and Nevada. The thriving business involves some of Texas’ most reputable entrepreneurs and large institutional investors. Propel Financial Services, the parent company of Rio Tax, controls about half of the Texas market.

Backed by San Antonio billionaire Red McCombs, Propel claims in its financial disclosures to have never lost money on a loan. But there’s growing concern that homeowners take on unnecessary risk with property tax loans. And while demand is apparently high, their usefulness may be limited, especially after a recent change in the law that requires counties to offer payment plans to homeowners with delinquent taxes.