Washington

Property Tax Exemptions for Senior Citizens and Disabled People

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded
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What is the property tax exemption?

It is a way to lower the property taxes you have to pay by exempting (excusing you from) all extra levies, like school construction bonds and other levies passed by voters, and sometimes part of regular levies on your home.

The program does not apply to:

  • Property where you do not live most of the time OR

  • More than one acre surrounding your home

Do I have to pay the money later? Will there be a lien on my property?

No, and no. This program actually lowers the amount of property taxes you have to pay. Once you sign up and are eligible, you no longer owe those higher taxes. You do not have to pay them back. No one, including the state, will have a lien or other interest in your property.

Am I eligible?

Yes, if you are a homeowner or mobile home owner and

  • You use the home as your principal residence  AND

  • You have a limited income AND

  • Either you will be age 61 by December 31st in the year of application, OR you are a disabled person of any age who is unable to work because of a physical or mental impairment. (You must have a doctor's written statement.) 

Any surviving spouse of a person getting an exemption at the time of the person's death shall qualify for an exemption if s/he is 57 or older and is otherwise eligible.

What is considered a limited income?

To qualify for an exemption, the maximum amount of annual household income you can have is $35,000. "Household income" includes:

  • your income

  • your spouse's income

  • income from anyone who lives with you and has an ownership interest in the home

Deductions for medical expenses may apply.

How long does eligibility last?

It lasts as long as you meet the age or disability and the income requirements. The exemption becomes effective for taxes in the year after the year you apply.

If you met the requirements in the past, but did not get the exemption, you may be able to get the exemption three years retroactively. This could mean a refund of taxes you already paid out.

What is the exemption amount?

If your household income is between $0 and $25,000, you are exempt from regular property taxes on the first $60,000 or 60% of your home's assessed value, whichever is more.

If your household income is between $25,001 and $30,000, you are exempt from regular property taxes on the greater of $50,000 or 35% of the assessed value, whichever is more, not to exceed $70,000 of your home's assessed value.

If your household income is between $30,001 and $35,000, you are exempt from all "excess" property taxes. "Excess" property taxes – also called special levies - require voter approval. They provide funds for a specific purpose, such as school bonds or maintenance and operation levies.

What if I cannot pay even the reduced rate of taxes?

You may be able to get your property taxes deferred if:

  • you are behind in taxes and unable to pay even at the lesser rate OR

  • your home is in foreclosure or you are facing foreclosure due to delinquent taxes. A deferral is different from an exemption. A deferral allows you to put off payment.

When you get your property taxes deferred, the taxes owed plus interest become payable when:

  • you or your surviving spouse dies OR

  • the home is sold OR

  • you no longer live permanently in the home

You need to meet the eligibility requirements for the tax deferral program. If you owe money on a home loan or a real estate contract, you may need to get the lender's or contract seller's permission from the lender to defer paying taxes.

This publication does not explain the eligibility requirements or considerations for the property tax deferral program.

How do I apply?

Call your county assessor or treasurer's office to apply for or get more information about the senior citizens and disabled persons tax exemption program or the property tax deferral program.

What if my application for an exemption is denied?

You may appeal to the Board of Tax Appeals. An appeal may be formal or informal. You should file your appeal within 30 days of the date the denial was mailed.

If you lose a formal appeal, you may appeal to a higher court. An informal appeal leads to a final decision. Contact your county assessor or treasurer's office for information about the forms to appeal.

 

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This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice.
This information is current as of May 2014.

© 2014 Northwest Justice Project. 1-888-201-1014
(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and individuals for non-commercial use only.)