Monday, July 4, 2016

Senior Tax Discount

Happy Fourth of July!

Today's blog has to do with financial independence, especially for those living on a limited or fixed income, due to age or disability. Washington State allows for a lower property tax for seniors and those with disabilities who meet specific income requirements.

Under the property tax exemption program, the value of your Washington State residence is frozen for property tax purposes, and you become exempt from all excess and special levies and possibly regular levies – resulting in a reduction in your property taxes. The exemption is available for your primary residence and up to five acres of land. A mobile home may qualify, even if the land where the mobile home is located is leased or rented.

Eligibility Requirements To be eligible for this program you must meet the age or disability, ownership, residency, and income requirements Your application must include proof of your age or disability.

Age and Disability On December 31 of the year before the tax is due, you must meet one of the following criteria. ƒ At least 61 years of age ƒ Unable to to work because of a disability OR a veteran entitled to and receiving compensation from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs at a total disability rating for a service-connected disability. Example: Your 61st birthday is in November 2015. You may file a 2015 application requesting an exemption on your 2016 taxes.

Ownership You must own your home in Washington State by December 31 the year before the taxes to be exempted are due. For example, to receive an exemption in 2016, you must own your home by December 31, 2015. The type of ownership must be in total (fee owner), as a life estate (including a lease for life), or by contract purchase. A home owned jointly by a married couple, a registered domestic partnership, or by co-tenants is considered owned by each spouse, domestic partner, or co-tenant. Only one person must meet the age or disability requirement. If you share ownership in a cooperative housing unit and your share represents the specific unit or portion where you live, you will be eligible for the exemption of your unit. If your primary residence or the land under your primary residence is owned by a government entity and you meet the program requirements, you may be eligible for a leasehold excise tax credit.

Residency The property must be your primary residence by December 31 the year before the tax is due. For example, you must be living in your home by December 31, 2015, to receive an exemption on your 2016 property tax. To keep your exemption going forward, you must live in your home for more than six months each year.

If you paid prior years’ taxes because of a mistake, oversight, or a lack of knowledge about this program, you may be eligible for a refund. You must meet all of the qualifications for the exemption as if you had applied at the time the application was due.

For more information on Tax Exempt and Tax Deferral programs, please contact your county tax assessor or the Washington Department of Revenue.

Happy Investing!

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