Property Tax Assistance For Seniors And The Disabled
NOTE: THESE PROGRAMS HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED AS OF JULY 1, 2009 BY THE STATE.
The State of California offers three programs to assist eligible seniors over age 62 and disabled individuals of any age in meeting their property tax obligations. These programs are supported by all residents of the state and do not impact the Napa County budget. Eligible seniors and disabled individuals are encouraged to take advantage of the programs described below because only a small percentage of eligible persons within California apply.
The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) oversees two programs whereby seniors over 62 and disabled individuals of any age can apply for Homeowner or Renter Assistance grants to offset property tax obligations. For renters the property tax obligation is a portion of their monthly rental payment. A homeowner is someone who owns and occupies their own residential unit. A renter is someone who rents a home, apartment, board and care home, retirement residence or manufactured home. If a person owns a manufactured home on rented space within a park they are eligible for the Homeowner Assistance program. Persons are not eligible who reside in facilities owned by public agencies or non-profit organizations or churches because those properties are not subject to property taxes.
The current household income limit for FTB assistance programs is $33,000 per year which is indexed each year for inflation. The grants are issued on a sliding scale based on income, the lower the income the greater the grant. The usual maximum grant for Homeowners is $326.40 and for Renters $240. The filing dates are July 1 through October 15 of each year and the person must have resided in the residence on December 31 of the year before the application is filed. For 2000 the grant has been raised by 150% on a one-time only basis. For 2000 (which means people lived in their home on December 31, 1999 and their 1999 income qualified) the homeowner assistance maximum of $326.40 is now increased by $489.60 to a total of $816.00. The renter grant maximum of $240 is increased by $360 to $600. The Franchise Tax Board will accept applications for these higher assistance grants through June 2001.
The third program is a property tax postponement program for seniors over 62 and disabled individuals of any age who own their own home administered by the office of the California State Controller. Eligible homeowners (including manufactured homes) can apply between May 31 and December 10 of each year to postpone their entire property tax bill. The annual income limit for postponement is only $24,000 per year. Legislation to raise the limit failed to clear the legislature this past session.
The taxes are paid by the State for each year that the homeowner remains in the program. The postponed taxes become a mini-mortgage against the property with simple interest accruing. When the home is sold or passes by inheritance, the accumulated postponed taxes plus interest must be repaid to the state. In most cases this repayment is not a burden because the home either sells for much more than the postponed taxes or the heirs are able to pay off the postponed taxes if they plan to keep the home. The Homeowner Assistance and Tax Postponement programs can work together so that eligible homeowners can first reduce their tax bill by the amount of assistance they are entitled to and then postpone only the balance remaining.
Forms are available from the Napa County Assessor at 1127 First St. Rm. 128, the Napa County Tax Collector at 1195 Third Street Room 108 and the Napa Valley Committee on Aging 1500 Jefferson Street (Senior Center). Homeowner and Renter Assistance forms can also be accessed on the internet at www.ftb.ca.gov. The Committee on Aging also offers help to those filling out the applications during the application period. The Committee can be reached at 707.224.5121.
Should you have any questions please contact Napa County Assessor John Tuteur at (707) 253.4459 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.