If you are a senior citizen or a person with disabilities with your residence in Washington State you may qualify for a property tax reduction under the property tax exemption for senior citizens and disabled persons.
There are four eligibility requirements you must meet to be eligible for the program. Each requirement must be met during the qualifying year. This is the year before taxes are due.
For example: If you are applying for a reduction of your 2021 property taxes, then you must meet the requirements for the age or disability, ownership, occupancy, and household income in 2020.
On December 31 of the year before taxes are due you must meet one of the following criteria:
Proof of age or disability is required. Proof of disability can be an Award Letter from Social Security, a VA Benefits Award Letter or a Proof of Disability Statement completed by your physician. A Proof of Disability Statement form can be obtained from our office.
You must own your home for which the exemption is claimed in the year before the taxes to be exempted are due. The type of ownership must be in total (fee owner), as a life estate (including a lease for life), or by contract purchase.
The property must be your principal place of residence. A property is considered your primary residence if you occupy the home for more than nine months in a calendar year. For example, you must be living in your home more than six months in 2020 to receive an exemption on your 2021 property tax.
Your residence may qualify even if you are temporarily in a hospital, nursing home, boarding home, adult family home or home of a relative. You may rent your residence to someone else while you’re temporarily away if the rental income is used to pay the facility costs.
Property used as a vacation home is not eligible for the exemption program.
Beginning in 2020, your annual household disposable income cannot exceed $42,043 with your 2019 income to qualify for an exemption on your 2020 property taxes. For previous years (property tax due in 2017 – 2019) your 2016 – 2018 income cannot exceed $40,000.
|Year Property Taxes Due||Qualifying Year||Disposable Income Limit|
Disposable income is calculated differently than adjusted gross income for federal income taxes. Disposable income includes all household income from all sources, regardless of whether the income is taxable or not taxable for federal income tax purposes. Some of the most common sources of disposable income include:
There are four types of expenses that may be deducted from combined disposable income. These include non-reimbursed amounts paid for you and your spouse.
You may bring all required documentation into our office and one of our staff will gladly assist you with filling out the application. Our office is currently open for walk-in requests with limited lobby capacity. Appointments are encouraged to reduce wait time. To make an appointment please contact us by phone at 360-778-5050 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also apply through the mail by completing an application and sending it along with all required documentation to our office. Mailed in applications can be sent to:
Whatcom County Assessor’s Office
311 Grand Ave Suite 106
Bellingham, WA 98225
If you feel you would have met the qualifications of the program in previous years but were unaware of the program, you may file an application for each year you would have qualified. You need to meet the required qualifications that were set in place for each year you are applying. You must file an application within 3 years of the date the taxes were due to receive a refund for excess taxes already paid.
For example: to receive a refund of the excess taxes paid on your 2018 property taxes you would need to file the application prior to April 30, 2021 to receive the full year’s exemption, and by October 30, 2021 to receive 1/2 year’s exemption. Any application for the 2018 property taxes filed after October 30, 2021 would be denied a refund.
When your application and required documentation is filed for previous years, you must use the income from the same year as you would have if you had filed your application on time. For example, you would use 2017 income for a 2018 application to receive the exemption from the 2018 taxes.
After approval, you may remain on the program for up to six years, but you must complete a renewal application or a change in status form if there are any changes that would affect the exemption. Some examples include:
The County Assessor must tell you if your application is denied. You may appeal the Assessor’s decision to the County Board of Equalization. The County Board of Equalization must receive your appeal by July 1 or within 30 days of when the denial notice was mailed, whichever date is later.
For any questions please contact us by calling 360-778-5050 or emailing email@example.com.