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 people with disabilities program.
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 2023 property taxes, then you must meet the requirements for the age or disability, ownership, occupancy, and household income in 2022.
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 six months in a calendar year. For example, you must be living in your home more than six months in 2021 to receive an exemption on your 2022 property tax. The length of occupancy in the calendar year was nine months for the 2019 qualifying year.
|Year Property Taxes Due||Qualifying Year||Occupancy in Calendar Year|
|2023||2022||More than 6 months|
|2022||2021||More than 6 months|
|2021||2020||More than 6 months|
|2020||2019||More than 9 months|
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 property tax due in 2019, your 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 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:
For the property taxes due in 2021 and before (2020 qualifying year and previous) 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.
Substitute House Bill (SHB) 1438 has added additional deductions from disposable income starting for the property taxes due in 2022. Below is a list of most of the deductions that are available for the property tax year 2022 and onward.
You may bring all required documentation into our office and one of our staff will assist you with filling out the application. Our lobby is currently open to walk-in requests with limited lobby capacity. Appointments are encouraged to reduce wait times. To make an appointment please contact us by phone at 360-778-5050 or by email at [email protected].
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 2020 property taxes you would need to file the application prior to April 30, 2023 to receive the full year's exemption, and by October 31, 2023 to receive ½ year's exemption. Any application for the 2020 property taxes filed after October 31, 2023 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 2019 income for a 2020 application to receive the exemption towards the 2020 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 protected].