When Rose Fanger reached retirement age, the Spokane resident began looking for ways to save.
“It’s scary going on a fixed income,” she said.
Fanger took advantage of a property tax exemption available to Washington residents 62 and older or who are disabled, and who have income of less than $35,000 a year. The lower a person’s income, the bigger the reduction in property taxes.
Although the allowance has been available since 1965, the economic slump has drawn renewed attention to it as people look for savings.
“I’m very pleased it’s available for people,” Fanger said. “What I’ve been able to do – fortunately – is put a new roof on, and I couldn’t do that if I had to pay all my property taxes.”
The exemption is available at three income levels: $0 to $25,000; $25,001 to $30,000; and $30,001 to $35,000.
The lowest income level allows for an exemption from voted taxes, such as school bonds and levies, which represent about 48 percent of a homeowner’s total property taxes. Additionally, those in the lowest bracket can receive a 60 percent reduction in taxes on a home’s assessed value. People can apply for the exemption through their county assessor’s office. Idaho offers a similar tax exemption program, according to the Idaho Tax Commission.
Spokane Valley resident John Frostad recently applied for the property tax exemption and found out that not only was he eligible for the current year, but the county also reimbursed him for two previous years.
“It helps you get by,” Frostad said. “Everyone is used to making $70,000 to $100,000 a year from working, then you retire and it drops to $30,000. You have to get used to that.”
He said the reduction in taxes means “I can pay my heating bill. Not everyone can.”
Spokane resident Robert Earle says the exemption has helped him better afford health care and he plans to keep applying for the property tax waiver as long as he qualifies.
“This break does help,” Earle said. “I’m waiting for paperwork to come in the mail now.”