Real estate tax relief for seniors is available in many states. Property tax relief is not administered on a federal level, but rather through local governments. In many instances, a real property owner can apply for and receive a real estate tax freeze upon reaching age 65.
What a Tax Freeze Does
A freeze on property taxes enables the property owner to keep the current year's property tax rate, often for life or for the duration of ownership of the property. In come counties, the cutoff may be 65, whereas in others it may be 70.
What a Tax Freeze Means
Travis County, Texas, where the city of Austin lies, serves as an example. Property owners who have reached age 65 can get a property tax freeze there. If the property owner pays $1,000 per year in property tax, applies and is granted a property tax freeze, that means that he will pay $1,000 per year even if the home doubles in value and neighboring homes similarly appreciate. Neighbors without the tax freeze would likely be paying significantly higher tax rates. It also means that if property values plummet and real estate taxes dip for the neighborhood, the person with the tax freeze may continue to pay $1,000 per year.
Tax Assessment Agencies
A homeowner at age 65 should contact his local taxing authority to determine whether a tax freeze is available. In many instances, this is the county assessor's office. The office may also be called a tax appraisal district. If the homeowner does not know to whom his taxes are paid and he has a mortgage with an impound account, his statement will likely note the taxing agency.
Filing requirements can vary by local government and by state. In Santa Cruz County, Ariz., for example, senior property homeowners may be eligible to have the full cash value of their primary residence remain frozen under specific conditions. The application must be filed before a specific date within the tax year in order to qualify for the option that year. If the date passes, the homeowner's filing will be processed for the year that follows. Other qualifiers apply. The home in question must be a primary residence and have been so for at least two years. Only one of the owners on the title needs to be at least 65 years old. There are income limits for the household.