DID YOU KNOW?
A note about processing applications for a property tax exemptions:
The COVID-19 pandemic has created tremendous challenges for all of us. Our offices are closed, and our team members are working from home. With the closure of our in-person service counters we are now dealing with a 500% increase in emails and phone calls. Additionally, the expansion in eligibility passed by the legislature this year has caused a surge in applications. We have received the equivalent of a typical year of applications in the first quarter of this year.
We are processing applications, but our response times are increased. Please know that we are working as hard and as fast as we can to process applications. Thank you for your understanding during this very unusual time.
State law provides two tax benefit programs for senior citizens and the disabled: property tax exemptions and property tax deferrals. Yet more than 26,000 qualified seniors and disabled persons have yet to register for the exemption, and only 1 in 100 of those eligible for deferrals are currently enrolled. Details of these two programs are provided below. The process of applying is fairly simple.
We encourage you or those you know to take advantage of this meaningful tax relief provided for our citizens on fixed incomes.
Under certain circumstances, you may be eligible for a property tax deferral or exemption.
Senior Citizens/Disabled Exemption
2020 Income Limit Change (based on 2019 earnings)
The Legislature has made major changes in the senior citizens, disabled persons, and veterans exemption and deferral programs. These changes will take effect for taxes collected next year, 2020.
The income limit is now indexed to 65% of the median household income in King County. The new limit is $58,423 rather than set at a fixed amount. We anticipate that this will allow more people to be eligible for these programs.
To qualify in for taxes payable in 2020, you will need to meet the following criteria:Age/Disability
- Born in 1958 or earlier, or
- Disabled and unable to work in 2019 or earlier
- Own the residence as of 12/31/2019
- Occupy as a primary residence 9 months each year
- Annual household income under the new threshold of $58,423 including Social Security and other sources (RCW 84.36.383(5))
The information below pertains to the current program. Most elements will remain the same with the exception of the income qualifying amount.
2019 And Earlier Qualifications Include:
- Annual household income of $40,000 or less
- Own and occupy a house, mobile home, condo or co-op,
- 61 years of age by December 31 of the previous year, or
- Retired because of disability or
- Veteran with a 100% service-connected disability
- You are a widow, or widower, or state registered domestic partner at least 57 years of age whose spouse or state registered domestic partner had an exemption at the time of death
Once qualified, you continue to benefit from the exemption but any change in circumstances must be reported to the assessor to avoid penalties. For information, call 206-296-3920.
You can apply for Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons Exemption here.
If you are not currently receiving SSI benefits, you must complete a Proof of Disability Form (.PDF).
Senior Citizens/Disabled Deferral
If you meet qualification, you can defer your unpaid property tax/or special assessments.
If you are 60 or older or are retired because of physical disability, meet equity requirement, living in the home for more than nine months in a calendar year and have annual household disposable income of $67,411 or less for the previous year, you may qualify for deferral of your property tax liability. Any unpaid past year taxes can also be deferred, providing you owned the property during those years. Deferred taxes plus accumulated interest become a lien on your property until the total amount is repaid. For information, call 206-263-2338.
Limited Income Deferral
If you meet qualification, you can defer 2nd installment of your property taxes /or special assessments.
To qualify, you must have owned your property for five years, meet equity requirement, living in the home as of January 1 of the application year and more than nine months during that year and every subsequent year and have annual household disposable income of $57,000 or less for the previous year. The first half of your taxes, due April 30th, must be paid before applying for the deferral on your second installment due October 31st. The rate of interest for the deferral is based on an average of the federal short-term rate, plus 2 percent. The application deadline is September 1 of each year. The deferred taxes, plus accumulated interest, become a lien on your property until the total amount is repaid. For more information, call 206-263-2338.
All owners of detached single family dwellings (including mobile homes on fee-owned land) may be eligible for relief from tax increases caused by major additions or remodels. Claims for exemption must be filed with the assessor BEFORE construction is complete. For more information, call 206-263-2338.
Property tax relief is available for flood and storm damaged property. Property damaged or destroyed by something beyond the property owner's control is eligible for a reduction of assessed value resulting in lower property taxes. The amount of reduction depends on the amount of value loss and when the natural disaster occurred.
If you own property in King County and wish to file a Destroyed Property claim, please use the King County Destroyed Property Form (.PDF).
For additional information regarding destroyed property and claims see DOR (external link).
State law provides for agricultural land, timber land and other open space to be assessed at its current use, rather than its highest and best use. For farm and agricultural land, and designated forest land, call the assessor at 206-263-2374. For Open space and Timber Lands, contact the Department of Natural Resources and Parks – Water and Land Resource Division at 206-296-8351 or 206-296-1470. For more information regarding Current Use Program visit https://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/stewardship/sustainable-building/resource-protection-incentives.aspx.
Personal Property Tax Exemption
If you are a sole proprietor, you are eligible for a $15,000 Head of Household exemption, which is deducted from the business's total assessed value. For more information, call 206-296-5126.
Farm Equipment Exemption
An exemption for certain farm equipment is available using this form (.DOC, external link).
The cost of substantial improvements to eligible historic property (25% or greater of the assessed value prior to rehabilitation) may be excluded from the assessed value for a period of ten years. Call 206-263-2324 for more information or download an application (.PDF). Applications are approved by the Historical Preservation Board.
Designated Forest Land
State law exempts all standing timber on privately and federally owned land from property taxes, although excise taxes are paid at the time of harvest. Forest land is subject to property tax, assessed at its highest and best use. However, qualifying Forest Land can be exempt from the "highest and best use" standard. To qualify, a parcel must have a minimum of 20 acres devoted to the growing, managing and harvesting of timber. An application must be submitted by the owner of the parcel(s). Property is subject to a compensating tax if the use changes or the designation is removed by either the owner or the Assessor. Call 206-263-2374 for more information or an application.
Church-owned property used for church purposes is exempt from property taxes. Property must be used for such things as church, parking, parsonage, convent and caretaker's residence. The land on which an exemption is granted may not exceed five acres. Call 206-263-2338 for information.
Tax exemptions are also available for property based on how it's used. Examples include:
- character building benevolent, protective or rehabilitative social services
- veterans and relief organizations
- day care centers
- nursing homes and hospitals
- schools and colleges
- art, scientific and historical collections
- fire companies
- humane societies
- musical and artistic associations
- public assembly halls
- certain public authorities
- sheltered workshops for the disabled
Call 206-263-2324 or 360-534-1400 for information.