Seeking tax relief
In the current economy, many people find themselves looking for ways to keep down expenses, and one of the first things to come to mind is the property tax bill. All the states and the District of Columbia recognize that there are times, especially as homeowners age and have to live on reduced incomes, when property tax relief on homes should be supported. In fact, there is not a single state that does not have some sort of relief program available, according to Significant Features of the Property Tax, the free online property tax database.
The most common type of tax reduction for homes is exemption of part of the value of the property from the property tax, in place in 45 states. In many states this option is available for all residential property, regardless of the age or personal income of the taxpayer; others limit this relief based on age and income. Other common provisions are the deferral of taxes until property is sold (28 states) a tax bill credit (25 states) and a circuit breaker, or reduction based on taxpayer income (34 states).
Most states actually offer a variety of forms of residential relief, starting with a basic exemption with limited taxpayer qualifications, and increasing in amount with the circumstances of the taxpayer: age, income, and special circumstances such as disability and veteran/military service status. Massachusetts and Maryland have the greatest number of programs, which include such options as tax credits for volunteer work, a tax credit for proximity to the airport, and a renters’ tax credit. The state with the most basic approach is Kentucky, which limits residential tax relief to a freeze in assessed value for taxpayers 65 and over or who are disabled.
All these facts were assembled using the Significant Features database, established in partnership with George Washington University and continually updated. For more information on property tax relief -- including some approaches that can have unanticipated, undesirable results, and property tax relief programs that states might best avoid -- visit the subcenter homepage where visiting fellow Andy Reschovsky provides some answers; explore the database to find out what your state is doing; and review the residential relief topic on the site.