Clark County assessor notifies seniors of tax changes

This is due to the state legislature passing ESSB 5160 raising the qualifying income levels among other changes

VANCOUVER — The Clark County Assessor has announced that seniors on the property tax exemption or deferral program will not receive their notice of property value in this week’s mailing of property tax notices. This is due to the state legislature passing ESSB 5160 raising the qualifying income levels among other changes.

As a result of the legislative changes, income qualification is tied to the median income of each county rather than a flat income level statewide. Based on Clark County’s current median income, it is estimated many taxpayers in the senior exemption and deferral program will be impacted and moved into a new income threshold resulting in additional property tax relief.

“I’m delaying mailing the notice of value to senior and disabled veterans property tax exemption program participants until the final income numbers are released from the state in August because I want to ensure my office is reporting accurate information,” said Assessor Peter Van Nortwick.

While this year’s taxes are not impacted and seniors who did not qualify under the old income levels won’t see a change in 2019, it is anticipated that in 2020 approximately 2,000 additional Clark County senior property owners may qualify for a tax relief program.

“This legislative change has been a top priority of my office, and I will ensure that enrolled senior citizens receive their notices of value in September with additional information on the benefits of the legislative changes,” said Van Nortwick.

This fall, both the Clark County treasurer and assessor will be actively communicating to senior citizens informing them of the new income levels and how to apply for property tax relief.

“This is a timely change for low-income seniors who are struggling with housing affordability, and my office is pleased to work with the Assessor’s Office to reach as many seniors as possible and inform them of the opportunity,” said Treasurer Alishia Topper.

The notices being mailed this week, report market value as of Jan. 1, 2019, as required by state law. Values for 2019 will be one factor in calculating property taxes for 2020.

About ESSB 5160

This bill amends the requirements for a person to be eligible for the property tax exemption  and deferral program for senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, and veterans. Beginning with taxes levied for collection in 2020, ESSB 5160 will:

  • Revise the income requirements or thresholds necessary to qualify for the exemption program as follows:
    • Income threshold 1 is the greater of $30,000, or 45 percent of the median household income for the county.
    • Income threshold 2 is the greater of $35,000, or 55 percent of the median household income for the county.
    • Income threshold 3 is the greater of $40,000, or 65 percent of the median household income for the county.
    • Income thresholds can never be less than the previous year.
  • Allow veterans to qualify for the exemption program with a service-connected disability evaluation of 80 percent or higher, or being paid at the 100 percent rate because they are unemployable due to their service-connected disability regardless of evaluation rating.
  • Revise the income threshold necessary to qualify in the deferral program, as follows:
    • Income threshold is the greater of $45,000 or 75 percent of the median household income for the county.
    • The income threshold can never be less than the previous year.
  • Require the Department of Revenue to update the income thresholds for both programs beginning Aug. 1, 2019, and every fifth year thereafter.

Information provided by Clark Co. WA Communications.

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