Assessor Susan Moylan Krey has reminded senior citizens in Maine Township about good tax news for them thanks to a new law taking effect this year that eliminates the annual renewal requirement for the Senior Exemption. Some seniors may also be eligible for the existing Senior Citizen Tax Deferral Program.
Although senior citizens seeking the Senior Tax Freeze will still need to file renewal forms, they will no longer need to file renewal forms for the Senior Exemption, according to Assessor Krey. The Senior Exemption is available to all homeowners 65 years of age or older, regardless of income. Under the new law, property owners who received the Senior Exemption last year will have it automatically renewed this year. Homeowners who were born in 1954 would have turned 65 in 2019, will have to apply for the Senior Exemption this year.
The Senior Freeze, which must be applied for annually because incomes change from year to year, provides additional tax savings for low- to moderate-income seniors. Any senior who received the Freeze last year must return a renewal application by Feb. 13. Applications for those qualifying for the freeze for the first time are available at Maine Township.
“Last year my office helped over 4,000 residents apply for their exemptions,” said Assessor Krey. “We also helped residents with Certificates of Errors which were missed exemptions from previous years which totaled over $800,000 returned to our residents.”
The Senior Citizens Tax Deferral Program, an additional benefit for senior citizens 65 years of age or older who are struggling with property taxes, allows them to defer payment of as much as $5,000 in property taxes until their homes or condominiums are sold. To qualify for the deferral program, seniors must have annual household income of less than $55,000, have equity in their homes that exceeds the sum of property taxes deferred, and have lived in their homes for at least three years. Two-flats and other properties that generate rental income are not eligible for the program. Properties held in a trust are also ineligible, although there are some exceptions to this rule. Applications must be submitted by March 1.
The tax deferral program is essentially a loan from the state that is charged simple interest of 6 percent per year. To assure repayment, a lien is placed on the senior’s home that will prevent it from being sold until the loan is paid. Because there are some circumstances where senior citizens might not want a lien on their homes, seniors uncertain about whether to apply contact the Township Assessor’s office, but should also consider discussing the matter with legal advisers, financial advisers or family members.
Assessor Krey said that those interested in the deferral program, should apply for other tax benefits available to senior citizens. For example, those who are eligible for the deferral, are also most likely eligible for the Senior Freeze and the Senior Exemption.
For questions, contact Maine Township at 847-297-2510 or visit the township website.