Seniors, disabled people, veterans will get break on property taxes

Apr 10, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: Apr 11, 2023, 4:05 pm

Seattle housing...

Townhomes are becoming more difficult to build in Seattle. (Oran Viriyincy, Flickr Creative Commons)

(Oran Viriyincy, Flickr Creative Commons)

Seniors, people with disabilities, and veterans will soon be getting property tax relief in Washington state as both chambers of the state government passed HB 1355.

The bill expands the qualifying income thresholds for the property tax exemption and deferral programs for low-income senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, and veterans. It immediately raises the current threshold by 5% and ties future increases to the most recent County Median Household Income level. In King County, this will raise the income eligibility level from roughly $58,000 per year to just over $72,000 per year.

“This bill means a savings on a typical $690,000 home. If you’re at the low end of the economic spectrum, it could save you more than $5,000 a year in property taxes,” King County Assessor John Wilson told MyNorthwest. “That’s money that truly makes a difference in people’s lives.”

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The bill is sponsored by Rep. Sharon Wylie (D Vancouver) and passed both chambers last week without a dissenting vote. It is now awaiting a signature from Gov. Jay Inslee.

The bill does outline participant limitations:

(ii) A veteran of the armed forces of the United States entitled 25 to and receiving compensation from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs at:

(A) A combined service-connected evaluation rating of 80% or higher; or

(B) A total disability rating for a service-connected disability without regard to evaluation percent.

“There will be some modest shift to taxpayers that aren’t in the senior exemption program,” Wilson said. “We estimate that probably less than $10 a year for the typical household in King County. And we think we all know that there are significant benefits to being able to allow seniors to age in place.”

There are UW studies that show seniors have better physical and mental health outcomes if they are able to stay at home.

“And the great challenge we have right now is a crisis in housing for seniors that may want to move, if they find themselves taxed out of their home, there’s literally no place built for them to go. And this allows them to stay in that home,” Wilson explained.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Sharon Wylie (D Vancouver) and passed both chambers without a dissenting vote.

“What it does is a couple of things. In King County, the threshold would go from $58,423 to just over $72,000 — that’ll bring in a lot more people, it will also allow people to stay in the program,” Wilson said. “It also takes the review period from five years down to three years. Because one of the things we’ve seen is with inflation — the way it has been this last year or two years — we’ve got to be revising the program or reviewing the program far more frequently than the five years originally envisioned.”

The bill outlines the public relations plan:

The department and each local assessor are hereby directed to publicize the qualifications and manner of making claims under RCW 84.36.381 through 84.36.389, through communications media, including such paid advertisements or notices as it deems appropriate. Notice of the qualifications, method of making applications, the penalties for not reporting a change in status, and availability of further information must be included on or with property tax statements and revaluation notices for all residential properties, including mobile homes, except rental properties.

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Seniors, disabled people, veterans will get break on property taxes