Last week, Mecklenburg County sent out property tax bills. Some want to know if there is any relief for the elderly.
CHARLOTTE, NC — With inflation driving up the cost of almost everything in 2022, many people are struggling to pay their bills.
One of the most vulnerable populations is the elderly, who often live on a fixed income, budgeting every penny to make ends meet. So what happens to seniors if their property taxes are higher than they can afford?
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The VERIFY team received this email from viewer Patricia G.
“I would like to know if NC or Charlotte have any programs for seniors regarding property taxes.”
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Yes, North Carolina and Charlotte have programs for seniors regarding property taxes.
WHAT WE FOUND
Mecklenburg County sent WCNC Charlotte a list of three different programs targeting seniors available in North Carolina.
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The description: This program excludes the greater of the first $25,000 or 50% of the appraised value of a qualifying homeowner’s permanent residence. A qualifying owner must be at least 65 years of age or be totally and permanently disabled. The owner cannot have an amount of income for the previous year that exceeds the income eligibility limit for the current year, which for the 2022 tax year is $31,900.
Multiple owners: Benefit limitations may apply when there are multiple owners. Each owner must file a separate application (other than husband and wife). Every eligible homeowner can receive benefits under assistance for the elderly or disabled Exclusion or Disabled Veteran Exclusion. The circuit breaker property tax deferral cannot be combined with either of these two programs.
The description: This program excludes up to the first $45,000 of the assessed value of a disabled veteran’s permanent residence. A disabled veteran is defined as a veteran whose character of service at separation was honorable or on honorable terms and who has a service-related total and permanent disability or who received benefits for specially adapted housing under 38 USC 2101. The claimant must be disabled on January 1 of the year in which the benefit is claimed. There is no age or income limit for this program. This benefit is also available to the surviving Spouse (who has not remarried) of either (1) a Disabled Veteran as defined above, (2) a Veteran who died of a service whose nature of service at separation was honorable or under honorable conditions, or (3) a member who died of a service-related condition in the line of duty and not as a result of willful misconduct. See GS 105-277.1C for the full text of the statute.
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Multiple owners: Benefit limitations may apply when there are multiple owners. Each owner must file a separate application (other than husband and wife). Each eligible homeowner may receive benefits under the Disabled Veterans Exclusion or the Elderly or Disabled Persons Exclusion. The circuit breaker property tax deferral cannot be combined with either of these two programs.
The description: Under this program, taxes for each year are limited to a percentage of the qualifying homeowner’s income. A qualifying owner must be at least 65 years of age or be totally and permanently disabled. For an owner whose amount of income for the previous year does not exceed the income eligibility limit for the current year, which for the tax year 2022 is $31,900, the owner’s taxes will be limited to 4% of the owner’s income. For an owner whose income exceeds the income eligibility limit ($31,900) but does not exceed 150% of the income eligibility ceiling, which for the 2022 tax year is $47,850the owner’s taxes will be limited to 5% of the owner’s income.
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However, taxes in excess of the limitation amount are deferred and remain a lien on the property. The last three years of deferred taxes before a disqualifying event will become due and payable, with interest, on the date of the disqualifying event. Interest accrues on deferred taxes as if they had been due on the dates on which they would initially be due. Disqualifying events are death of owner, transfer of ownership, and failure to use the property as the owner’s permanent residence. Exceptions and special provisions apply. See GS 105-277.1B for the full text of the statute.
YOU MUST SUBMIT A NEW APPLICATION FOR THIS PROGRAM EVERY YEAR
Multiple owners: Each owner (other than husband and wife) must file a separate application. All owners must qualify and elect to defer taxes under this program or no benefits are permitted under this program. The property tax deferral for circuit breakers cannot be combined with the elderly or disabled exclusion or the disabled veteran exclusion.
“You have to reach a certain age and you have to reach a certain income,” Shaheen said.
Two of the programs listed above require a minimum age of 65 or are restricted to people with disabilities.
“There are a lot of rules about it, and I would say they have to be if you think you might be qualified to work with a tax professional to see,” Henry said.
Shaheen said if you don’t qualify for these programs, you should always check that your property tax is calculated correctly and that you are paying the correct amount.
“You have to appeal that value if you think it’s not 100% market value,” Shaheen said.
The county of Mecklenburg also offers a HOUSES program which is available to help residents and only has an income limit, not an age limit.
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