New income guidelines could allow more senior citizens to qualify for a rebate on county property taxes due Feb. 28.
Qualifying homeowners 65 and older that made $27,800 or less in 2012 can get a rebate from the state in the amount of $134. In addition, the county will also match that amount, bringing the total rebate to $268.
“The income level is for whoever is on the deed plus a spouse,” Sumner County Trustee Marty Nelson said.
Although residents have until Feb. 28 to pay property taxes without incurring a penalty, Nelson said local residents who want to get a rebate should act sooner this year.
“The state has intimated a slight possibility they could run short on tax relief money this year,” she said. “If they run out, it will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. We encourage the Sumner County people to come in as soon as they can - we don’t want anyone left out and not be able to get that rebate.”
Should some residents not get the state rebate due to depleted funds, Nelson said the local county rebate of $134 would still be available.
For new applicants, property taxes must be submitted up front and refund checks would be mailed later, Nelson said.
For those already in the program, once they requalify by showing the required documentation, the refund amount is taken off at the time taxes are paid, she said.
The state tax relief is also available for homeowners who are 100 percent disabled by social security standards with the same annual income limit of $27,800.
Veterans who are 100 percent disabled from a service-related incident are automatically qualified for a tax relief rebate of up to $936. Income qualifications would not apply to these individuals.
Senior tax freeze still offered
All seniors who qualify for the state tax relief will automatically qualify for another local program - the property tax freeze - after bringing in the necessary documentation, Nelson said.
In addition, all homeowners 65 and older with an annual household income of $35,080 or less could qualify to have their property taxes frozen at the current rate of $2.02 (per $100 or assessed property value).
“That freezes the tax amount at the current level as long as you continue to qualify each year and bring in your paperwork,” Nelson said.
With reappraisals coming out in April, the tax freeze could be particularly helpful to some senior residents, Nelson said. Should property values rise or should the tax rate ever be raised, the only way seniors in the tax freeze program would have to pay more taxes would be if improvements to the property are made by the homeowner, she said.
It might not seem like a lot of money to some people, but Nelson and other county officials said local seniors really appreciate the help.
“The county gets more favorable comments from low to moderate income residents about these programs than we do anything else,” Sumner County Executive Anthony Holt said. “As the price of property escalates and if tax rates changes, it can have a tremendous impact on seniors. This helps those on a fixed or limited income that have worked all their lives to stay in their homes and enjoy their golden years.”
Residents applying or reapplying for either tax program would need to bring in proof of 2012 income including a copy of income tax return; Medicare card; proof of age; social security card and any additional income information such as a 1099 form.
For more information, residents are encouraged to call the trustee’s office at 452-1260 before going into the office.