Saturday September 30, 2023
Property Tax Assistance Programs
Residential property tax refund and credit programs exist in nearly every state, but unfortunately few people know about them. These programs can help retirees and many other Americans reduce their property taxes. Here is what you should know.
Rising Property Taxes
Property taxes are a major source of income for local governments. While they help fund key public services, they can be a financial burden for many homeowners, especially retirees who live on fixed incomes.
According to Attom Data Solutions, a real estate and property data provider, the average American household paid $3,785 in property taxes in 2021. This amount can vary widely depending on state tax rates and a home's estimated value. For example, New Jersey residents paid $9,476 per year on average in 2021, while West Virginia residents paid $901.
To help ease this tax burden, some states offer several property tax relief programs. Homeowners typically need to research what is available in the county or city of residence, determine eligibility and apply.
Property tax-relief programs, sometimes called "exemptions", release eligible homeowners from paying some or potentially all of their property tax obligation. How long the exemption lasts can vary depending on where the homeowner lives and the reason for their application.
The tax-relief process varies by county, city or state. In general, certain eligibility requirements must be met, an application is submitted and documents are provided to support the request. Most programs will either reduce, waive or freeze property taxes. Programs often exist to benefit seniors, veterans, surviving spouses, disabled and low-income taxpayers.
There are some counties that also offer basic homestead exemptions to homeowners regardless of age or income. Others may provide exemptions to homeowners that have recently made energy-efficient improvements to their home.
Where to Look
The best way to learn about local property tax relief programs and their eligibility requirements is to visit the county, city or state website that collects the property tax. Most of these websites will provide applications and instructions, and host an application either online, by mail or at the local tax office.
There may be additional resources available online. Using buzz words such as "residential property tax relief programs" in your favorite search engine may return helpful results. There may also be property tax aid services in your areas, look for free programs. Be wary of services that require payment since the programs are free to apply for in every state.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.