New law provides property tax reduction for some in state

Expands eligibility for the existing property tax exemption and deferral programs.

Some Washington state taxpayers will have property tax relief beginning next year. The change is the result of a new law that expands eligibility for the existing property tax exemption and deferral programs.

The legislation, which Gov. Jay Inslee signed on May 21, changes the qualifying income thresholds for the property tax exemption and deferral programs for low-income senior citizens, individuals with disabilities and veterans, beginning with taxes levied for collection in 2020. It also lowers the disability rating necessary to qualify as a disabled veteran for an exemption program. The change is from a 100 percent rating to an 80 percent rating.

Rather than being based on set income amounts, the income requirements to qualify for the exemption program will now be based on a percentage of each county’s median household income. The previous income requirement to qualify — $40,000 or less in annual income — will now be replaced with an income level equal to 65% of the county median income.

The assessor’s office estimates that this change will effectively raise the income threshold from $40,000 to approximately $55,000 in King County. Under bill requirements, the official income thresholds will be published by the Department of Revenue beginning Aug. 1.

King County Assessor John Wilson called the legislation “one of the most important property tax relief measures for older homeowners in decades” and credited Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) and Rep. Gael Tarleton (D-Seattle) for their leadership on the issue.

“This legislation is literally going to help people stay in their homes,” Wilson said in a recent press release. “I am proud to have worked with Executive Constantine, my fellow county assessors, and a number of organizations, including AARP, to advocate for this excellent bill.”

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