If you are a senior citizen or disabled with your primary residence in Washington State, there are two programs that may help you pay your property taxes and/or special assessments. Your household income and your age or disability determine your eligibility for both programs. The qualifying applicant receives a reduction in the amount of property taxes due. The amount of the reduction is based on the applicant’s income, the value of the residence, and the local levy rates. (2016 Brochure)
Under the 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.
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.
- At least 61 years of age
- 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.
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.
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.
Your residence may qualify even if you are in a hospital, nursing home, boarding home or adult family home. You may rent your residence to someone else during your stay in one of these facilities if the rental income is used to pay the facility costs. Property used as a vacation home is not eligible for the exemption program.
Your annual household disposable income may not exceed $40,000. If your household income is between $40,000 and $45,000, you may qualify for the deferral program. See the Property Tax Deferral for Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons fact sheet for more information.
Household income includes the combined disposable income of you, your spouse or domestic partner, and any co-tenants. A co-tenant is a person who lives in your home and has an ownership interest in your home.
Household income does not include income of a person who:
- Does not have ownership interest and lives in your home, except for a spouse or domestic partner. However, you must include any income that person contributes to the household.
- Has ownership interest in your home but does not live in the home. If someone living elsewhere has any ownership interest, the amount of your exemption will be based on the percentage of your ownership interest in the property.
Renewal Applications Every Six Years
A renewal application is required at least once every six years. After your initial application and approval, you will be notified by your county assessor when it is time to submit a renewal application.
For More Information
If you need help or have questions regarding the property tax exemption, application form, or the application process, contact your local county assessor’s office. The telephone number is listed in the local county government pages (usually the blue pages) of your telephone book.
If you have questions about the laws and rules governing this program contact the Washington State Department of Revenue at (360) 534-1400.
Visit our website at www.dor.wa.gov