Senior citizens having trouble paying their property taxes may be eligible to postpone their payment through the reinstatement of an aid program through the State Controller's office.
California offered the Property Tax Postponement Program from 1978 until 2009, when it was suspended during the recession due to lack of funding. The program has now been reinstated and the State Controller's office is taking applications starting Oct. 1.
"Through sound fiscal management, California is once again in an economic position to offer this assistance to homeowners in need," said Controller Betty Yee, the state's chief fiscal officer. "Property tax postponement offers crucial housing security for seniors and people with disabilities who are struggling to get by. The economic recovery has not reached every individual in every corner of our state, and this program is another tool to help address those inequalities."
To be eligible for property tax postponement, a homeowner must be:
• 62 or older or blind or have a disability;
• Have an annual household income of $35,500 or less;
• Have at least 40 percent equity in the property;
• Occupy the home as the primary residence, among other requirements.
The program applies only to current-year taxes. Program participants must reapply for the program each year and demonstrate they continue to meet eligibility requirements. The Legislature narrowed the requirements to ensure the program's limited funds support California's most vulnerable residents, so not everyone who participated prior to 2009 will qualify.
The interest rate for taxes postponed under the program is seven percent per year. Postponed taxes and interest become due and payable when the homeowner moves or sells the property, transfers title, defaults on a senior lien, refinances, obtains a reverse mortgage or passes away.
Funding for the program is limited and is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Program application and details are available online at: http://sco.ca.gov/ardtax_prop_tax_postponement.html or by calling (800) 952-5661.