Property tax exemption programs.
Many states and local municipalities offer property tax assistance to seniors, the disabled, and veterans. Programs including homestead exemptions, senior freezes, payment plans, deductions, and lower assessments are some of the resources offered to individuals who meet income limits. The details of the programs will be different in each state and town, and some parts of the country may not offer any assistance at all. However you should always call your local property assessor or county tax office to see what, if anything, may be available to you.
Homestead exemptions or benefits are normally available for senior citizens and the elderly. Some states will also offer this to a home with a disabled member, a veteran, or someone who is on active duty. Homeowners can receive an exemption from their property taxes which can be applied to their home. If you apply and meet qualifications, then a credit may be applied to your annual property tax bill, which will result in savings to the homeowner. Not only will an exemption or reduced assessment be offered to a veteran, but many states will also allow the credit to be used by their surviving spouse if the veteran were to pass away. There will of course be income limits in place that need to be met by applicants.
Some local governments will also have laws in place that protect families with a homestead exemption from the forced sale of their home. So if you can’t meet the demands of your creditors, then that means that someone you owe money to can’t take away your primary residence. However this may not apply to a foreclosure if you are behind on your mortgage.
Homeowners over 60 may be able to benefit from a Senior Freeze. This is a form of property tax reimbursement that will prevent the continued rise/increase of your annual tax bill. If you enroll and are found to be qualified, the program will in effect freeze the assessed value of your home at the current rate, so your taxes will not go up.
In subsequent years the homeowner will receive a credit on their bill that will reflect the difference between the base tax amount and any subsequent increases. So while the official assessment of your home may increase, the amount that a homeowner needs to pay on their real estate taxes will not increase.
While not as common, another program for senior citizens may be a Circuit Breaker. This will provide savings to a homeowner and their total tax obligation will be based on the individual’s income as well as their ability to pay their property taxes. Usually there will be a maximum percentage of income set by the state that an elderly member can pay for their taxes.
Some of the other, though even less common, property tax assistance and exemption programs include the following.
- Property Tax Deferrals are offered in a few states. This allows any overdue or unpaid taxes to be deferred until the home is sold. So if someone owes say $5,000, they will not need to pay this bill. What will happen instead is the unpaid real estate tax will be set up as a lien against the property, and the amount will still be owed to the local county government when the property is sold, or when the homeowner passes away.
- Deductions can be established by your local town or county municipality. If your local government does offer this, the most common beneficiaries are lower income senior citizens, veterans, and disabled homeowners.
Other resources may be offered as well. Anyone who is struggling, especially seniors and people with a disability, should contact their local county or municipal tax office right away. Inquire as to what type of, if any, real estate tax assistance, payment plan or deductions may be available.
Property and real state tax assistance programs by state
Alabama - While eligibility conditions can be set and may change at the local town and county level, in general veterans and disabled senior citizens are exempt from paying property taxes.
Alaska - Both optional and mandatory exceptions are available, and only apply to certain homes. Under state regulation AS 29.45.030(e), there is a mandatory exemption of property taxes up to the first $150,000 of assessed value. This assistance program is for senior citizens age 65 years and older as well as disabled veterans. All municipalities, towns, and cities in Alaska are required to grant this exemption.
Arizona - Homestead exemptions and property tax assistance programs are offered to honorably discharged service members, soldiers, sailors, nurse corps, and other veterans. Disabled residents and widows of a military member may also qualify for help.
The Senior Valuation Protection Option freezes the property valuation of residential homeowners who are 65 years of age or older if they meet specific qualifications and make application to the County Assessor. The state of Arizona valuation freeze is for three years and may be renewed at the end of the third year. This does not freeze your property tax bill but it does freeze the property valuation.
Arkansas - Property tax assistance and deductions are offered for disabled veterans who have been awarded compensation by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Additional beneficiaries can include surviving spouses as well, provided they do not remarry.
California - An exemption is offered for unmarried surviving spouses of a veteran, or a military member with disabilities. The exemption can be for as much as $150,000 if the home owner also meets certain low income levels. This is a fairly large discount, and can help people save a significant amount of money on their annual real estate tax bill. The state may exempt the first $7,000 of residential homestead value from property taxes.
There are also a few senior citizen property tax relief programs available in California. The postponement program gives qualified senior citizens the option of having the state pay their property taxes until the individual sells the property, moves, or dies. This can almost be thought of as a long term payment plan. Another option is the formal property tax assistance program, which provides qualified elderly California residents with cash reimbursements. The last option is the state’s replacement housing program, which allows seniors the ability to sell their home and buy a new one of equal or lesser value. They can then transfer the former home’s assessed value to the new residence.
Colorado - A senior property tax exemption is in place as well as one for the disabled. Also, cities such as Boulder Colorado will provide a 50% deduction for up to the first $200,000 of your home’s assessment. This is offered for senior citizens over age 65 that have lived in their home for ten consecutive years.
Connecticut - There is one program that continues to operate, and it is the circuit breaker program. It offers a credit for a senior that they can use on their annual property tax expense. It also supports veterans and their surviving spouses.
Delaware offers homeowners age 65 the possibility of a tax credit against their regular school property taxes. This can be as much as a 50 percent reduction; however the maximum savings are set at about $500.
Florida - A homestead exemption of up to $50,000 is in effect for a primary home. This also includes widows and widowers who can get an exemption of up to $500. Blind persons and disabled may receive $500 as well. Ex-service members and veterans may receive savings, as well as disabled military members. Another Florida program is known as Senior Citizen’s Exemptions of up to $50,000. This is available in certain counties and cities to qualified citizens aged 65 and older.
In addition, some county governments in Florida will limit increases in your assessment. It shall not exceed the lower of 3% of assessed value from prior year or the percentage change in consumer price index.
Georgia offers the Standard Homestead Exemption. So while rules can change at the county level, in general a homeowner is entitled to a homestead exemption on their home and the land underneath it.
Aid is also available for individuals 65 years of age and older, who may claim an exemption from state and property tax on their home and up to 10 acres of land surrounding the home. Additional discounts and Homestead Exemptions are available for disabled veterans and surviving spouses of firefighters, emergency responders and police members.
Hawaii offers discounts and savings for real property that is owned and occupied as a home by a widow(er) or totally disabled veteran.
Idaho provides residents a homeowner’s exemption for manufactured homes as well as owner-occupied homes that are primary dwellings. The exemption includes up to the value of your home and at most one acre of land.
Illinois - The General Assembly may, by law, grant rent credits or homestead exemptions to qualified low income seniors and/or those with a disability.
Rehabilitating your older home is rewarding in many ways, and with the Property Tax Assessment Freeze homeowners may be eligible for a financial incentive that can make the work even more attractive. The program can freeze the assessed value of historic owner-occupied, principal residences in Illinois for a period of 8 years, followed by a four-year period during which the property’s assessed value steps up to an amount based upon its current market value. This results in 12 years of reduced property taxes. This program is administered free of charge as a benefit to Illinois property owners interested in rehabilitating their historic homes.
Indiana - Deductions are offered for the elderly over 65 years of age as well as veterans and the disabled.
Iowa - The state runs a Disabled and Senior Citizens Property Tax Credit/Rent Reimbursement. In addition, a Homestead Credit is in place, as well as a Military Exemption and an assistance program for Mobile Home Reduced Tax Rates.
Kansas has a formal application in place. Basically, any property owner who requests assistance or an exemption on their property taxes needs to file the request. Forms are available at your county appraiser office. You need to explain the legal and factual basis for your request for an exemption. The appraiser will either accept or reject it, and a hearing can be held if need be. If you are denied, a full explanation needs to be provided to you that gives the reason why.
Kentucky - Taxes on both your personal and real estate expenses shall be exempt for the disabled and residents who are 65 years of age or older. All rules and regulations that are administered by the Commonwealth of Kentucky as well as the United States government need to be followed.
Louisiana - A homestead exemption is offered in most parishes. Where available, it can exempt the first $75,000 of residential homestead from your local government property taxes. Call your local assessor to inquire.
Maine provides a property tax exemption of up to $10,000. Veterans can also apply for property tax relief, and assistance is offered for those over 62 years of age or who are disabled/injured. The blind can receive assistance as well.
Maryland offers property tax savings/exemption to veterans who are disabled or permanently injured from military service-connected causes. Their surviving spouse can benefit from the credit as well. Another program is for those residents with a visual acuity of 20/200 or less, and they may receive an exemption of up to $15,000 on their home and land.
Massachusetts - Property tax assistance and discounts are offered for an elderly person with financial need who is at least 70 years of age. Other savings are provided to those who are legally blind, a homeowner of any age who is facing a severe financial hardship, a disabled veteran, or a minor child with one parent deceased.
Michigan offers a credit for qualified a family’s property taxes, and the program also applies to mobile homes. You need to own or rent a home in Michigan, and have lived in the state for at least 6 months. Income limits are in place. In addition seniors may qualify for a special savings plan. An alternate credit on your taxes is also available only to renters age 65 or older whose rent is more than 40% of their household income. If your spouse lives in a nursing home and the other spouse maintains a home, you may file a joint credit claim in Michigan. While the amount of the credit may change yearly, it has been in place for several years.
Another option is the Michigan Principal Residence Exemption. This can help homeowners from paying the operating millage that may be set by their local school districts.
Minnesota - Property tax savings and discounts are in place for disabled veterans.
Mississippi - The state supports service-connected, 100% disabled veterans and former military personnel who were honorably discharged from any branch of the military. They will be exempt from all ad valorem and real estate taxes on homesteads up to $7,500 is assessment.
Missouri offers a Property Tax Credit for disabled members of the military or their spouses. Seniors and the elderly over 65 can also apply, and this is open to anyone, not just veterans.
Montana administers a Real Estate Tax Assistance Program for low income residents. Other resources include the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Property Tax Benefits, a more ongoing/Extended Program and also an Elderly Home Owner/Renter Credit. Income limits have been set by the state government in Montana for all of these payment programs.
Nebraska - Assistance is offered for honorably discharged veterans as well as the disabled and blind. Those with a serious condition such as an amputation may also qualify for help. Receive an exemption from property taxes on your primary residence or a mobile home owned and occupied by the disabled, blind or veteran. You can also receive a tax rebate on one owned motor vehicle or car.
Nevada offers a Senior Citizen Tax Rebate/Rental Assistance program that was created by the Nevada State Legislature. Another option is the Surviving Spouse Exemption, which applies to qualified residents and people can receive up to $1200 in assessed valuation deduction. The Nevada Veteran’s Exemption provides a $2,340 reduction in the assessed value on your property taxes. A program is also in place for the blind.
New Hampshire offers a property tax exemption for the disabled, and it can be as much as $32,000. The elderly can even receive more assistance, and it can be set as high as a couple hundred thousand dollars. Veterans or their widows can also receive a property tax credit, and that can be as much as $200 on their annual bill.
New Jersey - The Homestead Benefit Program is for the disabled and homeowners age 65 or older. In order to qualify for a reduction in your real estate taxes or an exemption in New Jersey, you must meet qualifications that are set by the state and your county. For example, applicants will need to be honorably discharged from active wartime service in the US Armed Forces. Or they will need to be VA certified as having service-connected total or 100% permanent disability.
A Senior Freeze is also in place. This will help income qualified, older New Jersey residents from being faced with increasing costs on their homes. Assistance may be paid out in the form of a credit on your expense.
New Mexico also runs a Veterans’ Tax Exemption, and this is for people who have established legal residency in the state or who were discharged from service. Also, New Mexico resident who have been approved for 100 percent service-connected disability compensation by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are eligible for a complete property tax waiver, so they will not need to pay anything on their real estate taxes no matter what the assessment is.
New York State runs a program known as Disabled Homeowners’ Exemption (DHE). This is offered for homeowners of 1-, 2-, and 3-family houses, condominiums, or cooperative apartments who meet residency, disability status, and income requirements.
Another program is in place for older residents, and is known as the Senior Citizen Homeowners’ Exemption, or SCHE. Older residents can receive help on paying their property taxes from this resource.
Basic STAR is also offered in New York, and there is no age limit.
The Veteran’s Property Tax Exemption is for people who served in the armed forces. The applicant or their spouse and family need to live in a condominium, town home, house, or cooperative apartment more than six months a year. The wife or husband of a qualified veterans as well as surviving spouses can apply, or even the parent of a child who died in the line of duty can benefit.
Most counties in New York also offer some form of the the senior citizens exemption. Local school districts and governments may decide to provide a reduction on the amount of property taxes that are due from qualified elderly residents, the homebound and senior citizens. Some assessments and resulting taxes could be reduced by as much as 50%.
North Carolina provides a lower assessment and therefore will exclude from property taxes a portion of the appraised value of a permanent residence owned and occupied by residents who are totally and permanently disabled or aged 65 or older. In addition, being a major military state, North Carolina also excludes from property taxes $45,000 of the appraised value of a permanent residence owned and occupied by an honorably discharged disabled veteran. The Circuit Breaker Tax Deferment for Senior Citizens can also help older individuals.
North Dakota offers a residential and agricultural property income tax credit.
Ohio created a program that provided the homestead exemption to seniors and the disabled. The state implemented a law to make property tax relief available to hundreds of thousands of elderly, disabled residents as well as senior citizens. The program provides qualified homeowners the ability to cut up to $25,000 of the market value of their home. Get more information, or apply, at your local county assessor in order to take advantage of the reduction in property taxes and lower assessment that can be placed on your home.
Oklahoma - Very low income, working poor, and struggling seniors and disabled may be able to obtain a Property Tax Refund/Credit. State government and local county organizations provide this exemption to those who meet and residency requirements. Applicants need to be at least 65 years of age and/or totally disabled in order to receive a property tax refund in Oklahoma.
The state of Oklahoma also allows a $1000 deduction of the assessed valuation if homeowners file for homestead exemption with the local town or county clerk. This is equivalent to about $75 to $125 of savings per year.
A freeze program is in place as well. State Question 677 directs that Homestead Property rates and valuations shall be frozen by the local county assessor if the following conditions exist if the resident is age 65 or older and meets income levels.
Oregon offers a Surviving Spouse or Disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemption. The state program will help those residents that live with a disabled veteran or the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner of a veteran. If qualified, you may be able to receive over $20,000 exemption of your home’s property tax.
Pennsylvania can provide a rebate of up to $650 from the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. While various conditions are in place, in general applicants need to be at least 65 years of age or older; widows or widowers 50 years of age or older and/or permanently disabled. Supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can boost savings, discounts and rebates to $975. To apply for the program, call or stop by your local Area Agencies on Aging, Department of Revenue district offices, community action agency, senior centers or state legislators’ offices. Counselors and housing specialists can also provide free advice on your other options and grant programs that may be available.
In addition, any honorably discharged veteran who is a resident of Pennsylvania shall be exempt from the payment of all real property taxes levied upon any building. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs must have classified the individual as disabled, and it needs to be verified by the State Veterans’ Commission. In addition to this aid, upon the death of the qualified veteran, the exemption passes on to the unmarried surviving spouse if the financial need for ongoing help can be proven.
Seniors may even receive additional assistance in Pennsylvania. Their property tax rebates may be increased by up to an additional 50 percent.
Rhode Island offers a Property Tax Relief Claim. Applicants need to live in a household or rent a dwelling that was subject to property tax, have been a legal resident of Rhode Island for the entire year, need to be current on paying property taxes or rent due on the homestead for all prior years, and meet low income guidelines. Another government administered program is the Rhode Island Homestead Exemption. This will cover the first 20% of your home’s value, and it will exempt that portion from real estate taxes.
South Carolina can exempt your home and up to one acre of property from real estate taxes. Assistance is offered for veterans who are disabled from a service-connected medical condition. The spouse who survives may also receive the discount. Paraplegic or hemiplegic people may also receive help with paying their real estate taxes. The state will also offer a homestead exemption of $50,000 on your property, and this is currently available able to qualified low to moderate income residents who are 65 years of age, blind, or have some other form of disability. So senior citizens, even if they do not have a medical condition, may qualify for help from the state of South Carolina, or their local town.
South Dakota - The state offers a Property Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans, and qualified individuals may receive up to a $100,000 reduction in the assessment of their primary home. There is also a Property Tax Refund for Aged and Disabled Persons. For this resource, the applying head of the household must be sixty-five years of age or older. Or the primary income earner of the home could be disabled. In order to qualify for any other these assistance programs, the applicant needs to have owned the property for at least three years or they need to have been a resident of the state at least five years.
The state also offers a Sales and Property Tax Refund for disabled and senior citizens. This is offered as part of an assessment freeze.
Tennessee can help residents who are elderly or disabled. Applicants need to be at least 65 years of age, can prove it, and of course they need to live in the home. For the disability component, the applicant needs to have incurred a service-connected disability that resulted in Permanent paralysis or Paraplegia of both legs and/or the lower part of their body resulting from disease to the spinal cord or some type of traumatic injury. People who are blind or lost a limb may also qualify. Widow(er) of a veteran may also benefit from the Tennessee property tax relief program.
The General Assembly of Tennessee has also put into place other regulations. They have been granted the authority by general law to authorize counties and/or municipalities to implement a local option property tax freeze for taxpayers 65 years of age or older.
Texas will allow residents to apply for homestead exemptions on their principal residence. In this state, the Homestead exemption is one of the most effective ways to remove part of your home’s assessed value from taxation. So this will in effect allow people to save a good sum of money on their real estate taxes.
Applicants need to be age 65 or older or disabled. If you meet conditions, residents can qualify for a total of a $10,000 homestead exemption for school taxes. This is in addition to the $15,000 reduction that is available for all homeowners. If the owner qualifies for a discount for being 65 or older, and the disability exception, they need to still pay some form of taxes to their county or local municipality.
Any local town or county in Texas may also offer an additional exemption and savings to up to $3,000 for taxpayers age 65 or older or disabled veterans. Those qualified veterans who meet certain requirements and also the spouses and minor children of a person who dies on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces are offered assistance in paying their taxes as well as further reduction in their assessment. It is mandatory to offer this benefit to qualified residents, and it applies to taxes levied by all local and region taxing authorities in Texas.
Utah - Residents of this state can apply for a Low Income Abatement. It is offered to the disabled, seniors who are age 65 or older, or families who are facing an extreme financial hardship. Very low income and working poor families may benefit from this service.
A Homeowner’s Tax Credit is also offered for people age 66 or older who meet low income guidelines and who have lived in the state for the entire year. A Veteran Property Tax Abatement is an exemption that is equivalent to the military service-connected disability rating percentage. It is provided by the state and local government in Utah for disabled veterans, orphans, or widows.
Vermont - The Homeowner’s Property Tax Adjustment is offered to people who meet guidelines, and they may even have an income of up to $97,000 and can still qualify.
Virginia offers the Section 6-A property tax exemption for military members and veterans. The state government has laws in place that will exempt from property taxation the real property or home of veterans who have a one hundred percent service-connected, total and permanent disability. They also need to occupy the home or condo as their principal place of residence. Virginia will extend these savings to the surviving spouse or a veteran as well, as long as they continue to live in the home.
Washington provides help with paying real estate and property taxes as part of the Exemption for Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons. Both of them work independently from one another, and your total household income, your age, and your disability (if you have one) will determine how much your home’s assessment will be reduced, and what your discount will be.
Washington DC - Call your local assessor for information on the District of Columbia Senior Citizen or Disabled Property Owner Tax Relief program. When a property owner turns 65 years of age, or when someone becomes disabled, they should learn about and file an application immediately for senior citizen or disabled property tax relief. This government sponsored benefit reduces a qualified property owner's property taxes by up to 50 percent.
West Virginia can provide up to a $20,000 exemption on a single family home, including manufactured or mobile dwellings. Assistance is offered if the home is owner occupied by any person who is at least sixty-five years old or permanently disabled. Prior to getting any help from the state, people need to have paid their property taxes for the last two years on time. So applicants need to have had a history of paying their bills on time in the past, and this assistance is not meant for people with limited financial stability.
Wisconsin offers a Homestead Exemption to low income residents. Some of the conditions that need to be met include, but are not limited to, the applicant can’t be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s federal income tax return, they need to have lived in the state the entire year, applicants can’t be claiming the surviving spouses or veterans property tax credit, they can’t have received a Wisconsin Works payment or grants from your county. If these and other conditions are met, a resident can receive a discount on their annual real estate taxes.
Wyoming offers a veteran’s benefit for people who have lived in the state for at least three years. The property tax exemption is applied against the homes total assessed value, with a maximum benefit of $3000. This savings is also available to a qualified veteran’s surviving spouse if the person has passed away.
Another program is for the elderly, and the property tax deferral program is available to senior citizens, disabled, and low-income homeowners. It is only offered in certain counties. This statewide assistance program may allow up to one half of the annual property taxes to remain unpaid. The amount may need to be paid if/when the home is ever sold in the future. Help is only available for income qualified residents, and they need to contact their local assessor, Department of Revenue, or county treasurer.