Home News County Council Department Favorites

Exemptions

Senior Citizen and Disabled Persons Exemption

If you are a senior citizen or if you are disabled, Washington State has two programs that may help you to pay your property taxes and/or special assessments. Your household income and your age or disability determines your eligibility for both programs.

The Senior Citizen and Disabled Person Property Tax Exemption Program freezes the value of your residence, exempts all excess levies, and may exempt a portion of regular levies. This results in:

  1. Freezing the value of your residence as of January 1 of the initial application year, and
  2. Providing you with a reduction in your property taxes

The assessor will continue to establish the market value of the property, however, you will only be billed for the taxes on the frozen value.

Further information about this exemption is available here , and the Application Form is available here.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Age or Disability

You must be at least 61 years old on December 31 of the year in which you apply,

or

You must be unable to work because of a disability. As proof of disability, you must have a doctor complete the
Proof of Disability Statement to send with your application or provide a letter of disability determination from the Social Security Administration.

Ownership

The exemption is available for your principal home and up to one (1) acre of land. If your local land use regulations require that you have a parcel of land larger than one acre for your home, the exemption may also extend to the additional acreage, up to a maximum of five (5) acres.

The property must be your principle home at the time you apply for the exemption. A mobile home may qualify as your residence, even if you do not own the land where the mobile home is located. You must occupy the home for at least six (6) months each year.

Your residence may qualify even if you are temporarily in a hospital or nursing home. You may rent your residence to someone else during your hospital or nursing home stay, if the income is used to pay the hospital or nursing home costs.

Property used as a vacation home is not eligible for the exemption program.

You must own the home for which the exemption is claimed, either in total (fee owner), as a contract purchaser, mortgagee, deed of trust or as a life estate (including a lease for life). If you transfer your home under a revocable trust agreement, you must retain the full use of the property and be able to revoke the trust and take ownership at any time. Irrevocable trusts qualify, if they can be deemed a life estate.

A home owned by a married couple or by cotenants is considered owned by each spouse or cotenant. Only one person must meet the age or disability requirement.

If you share ownership in a cooperative housing unit, you will be considered an owner, if your share represents the specific unit or portion where you live.

Leasehold Interest

If your primary residence or the land under your primary residence is owned by a government entity, you are eligible for a comparable exemption, if you meet the minimum qualifications.

Household Income

Your annual household income may not exceed $35,000. Household income includes your disposable income, that of your spouse, and any cotenants. A cotenant is a person living in your home who also has an ownership interest.

Household income does not include:

  1. The income of a person, other than a spouse, who does not have ownership interest and lives in your home. However, the application must show any income the person contributes to the household,
  2. The income of a person who has ownership interest and lives elsewhere. However, if someone living elsewhere has any ownership interest, the amount of your exemption will be based on the percentage of your interest in the property.

COMPUTING DISPOSABLE INCOME

The maximum amount of annual income you may receive to qualify for the exemption is $35,000. The disposable income you receive during the year you apply determines your eligibility. (The assessor will require proof of income.) Disposable income includes all sources, whether or not they are taxable for federal income tax purposes. Losses and depreciation may not be deducted. Some of the most common sources of income include:

  1. Wages, salaries, and tips.
  2. Social Security benefits.
  3. Railroad retirement benefits.
  4. Pension and annuity receipts, including retirement bonds, Individual Retirement Accounts, and distributions from Keough plans. An annuity is a payment of a fixed sum of money received at regular intervals. Some examples of annuity payments include unemployment compensation, disability payments, and welfare receipts (excluding amounts received for the care of dependent children).
  5. Interest and dividend receipts.
  6. Business income. Depreciation and business losses may not be deducted.
  7. Rental income. Depreciation and rental losses may not be deducted.
  8. Capital gains.

If you were retired for two or more months during the application year, your household income will be computed by multiplying the average monthly disposable income received during the months you were retired by twelve. If your spouse died before November 1 of the application year or you have a significant change in income that is expected to last an indefinite period of time, your household income is computed by multiplying the average monthly disposable income, after the occurrence, by twelve.

Deductions from Disposable Income

There are four types of expenses that may be deducted from combined disposable income. These include out-of-pocket costs for:

  1. Medicare insurance premiums paid under Title XVII of the Medicare Insurance Act. At this time, other insurance premiums are not deductible.
  2. Nursing home, boarding home, or adult family home costs. This deduction is for the actual non-reimbursed costs of care and these costs may be deducted from income in the year the costs are incurred.
  3. Cost for care or treatment received in the home. These costs are for care or treatment a person receives in the home that is similar to nursing home care. For example, therapy or nursing care received in the home, meals on wheels, attendant care, in-home hospice care, etc. Special needs equipment and/or furniture is also included.
  4. Non-reimbursed costs for prescription drugs.

Exemptions

The gross income maximum limit for the Exemption Program is $35,000. The three tiered benefit specifications are as follows:

Gross Income Tier
Exemption Benefits
Tier 1: $00,000 - $25,000
Exempt from 100% of the excess levies*, plus exempt from regular property taxes up to $60,000, or 60% of the value, whichever is greater.
Tier 2: $25,001 - $30,000
Exempt from 100% of the excess levies, plus exempt from regular property taxes up to $50,000 or 35% of the value, whichever is greater, not to exceed $70,000.
Tier 3: $30,001 - $35,000
Exempt from 100% of the excess levies.

In each income tier, the assessed value is frozen as of the year of application, and remains frozen for the duration of participation in the exemption program. Therefore, taxes are paid only on the frozen value for the duration of your participation in the exemption program, even though the market value of your property may increase. You also have the right to apply for the exemption retroactively for three (3) previous years, using separate application forms and income documentation for each year.

* Excess Levies are in addition to regular levies. They require voter approval and provide money for a specific purpose, such as school bonds and maintenance and operation levies.