CORRECTED: Senior and disabled property owners waiting on approval of tax deferral or exemption can opt for extension
Seniors, people with disabilities, and others with qualifying conditions who applied for property tax exemptions or deferrals but are still waiting for a determination will be able to extend payments until January 31, 2021.
Affected property owners will be contacted, and will need to notify the Assessor's Office via the web at kingcounty.gov/taxreliefextension, call 206-296-3920 or email email@example.com to opt in to this program. The statutory deadline of November 2 remains in effect for all other property taxpayers. Seniors seeking property tax payment extensions must have mailed or filed an application on or before October 19.
In 2019, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Assessor John Wilson sought legislation, ultimately passed by the state legislature, to expand 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 lowered the disability rating necessary to qualify as a disabled veteran.
As a result, the King County Assessor's Office reported that applications for property tax exemptions increased by 400 percent this year.
This surge, combined with remote work requirements in the Assessor's Office due to COVID-19, staffing challenges, and computer software – managed by King County Information Technology – which proved insufficient to handle the volume of applications, created a backlog of 4,400 unprocessed applications.
Legislation sponsored by Councilmember Rod Dembowski, supported by King County Treasury and Assessor’s Office, and passed by the King County Council today, provides the Assessors Office more time to process applications. Treasury will be sending notices out this week with information.
"King County has led the way in seeking expanded property tax relief for modest income seniors and disabled veterans. But when seniors and veterans applied for this benefit, the process has been too challenging and taken far too long," said Councilmember Rod Dembowski. "I'm pleased that we are taking action today to extend deadlines and enhance staffing to get people the answers they deserve on their applications. Especially during this pandemic, King County must do everything we reasonably can do to ensure that seniors and veterans aren't living in fear of having to leave their homes because tax relief isn't promptly implemented."
To qualify for an exemption, property taxpayers need to meet the following criteria:
- Born in 1958 or earlier or
- Disabled and unable to work in 2019 or earlier or
- Retired because of disability or
- Military veteran with a 80% service-connected disability or
- Widow(er) or state-registered domestic partner of at least 57 years of age whose spouse or partner had an exemption at the time of death
- Own the residence as of December 31, 2019
- Occupy the property as a primary residence at least nine months each year
- Annual household income earned in 2019 must not exceed $58,423, including Social Security and other sources
To qualify for a deferral, property taxpayers must be 60 years old or older, or retired because of physical disability. They must meet an equity requirement, live in the home at least nine months in a calendar year, and have an annual household income of $67,411 or less for the previous year. Deferred taxes plus accumulated interest become a lien on the property until the total amount is repaid.
For more information about property tax exemptions or deferrals, visit kingcounty.gov/assessor/seniors or call 206-263-2338.
For information about property taxes, contact King County Treasury at 206-263-2890, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit kingcounty.gov/PropertyTax.