K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Property Tax Assistance

Joe Tarr:

City property taxes for their home are about $5,000 a year. “That’s a whole chunk of our total income, because our only income is Social Security,” he says.

But then they discovered a little-known city program for people in their situation. The “property tax assistance for seniors reverse mortgage loan program” allows seniors to defer paying their property taxes.

Property owners are eligible if they are 65 or older with less than $30,000 in assets and meet income guidelines (currently $52,850 for a single person or $60,400 for two people). When people qualify, a lien is placed on the property, meaning the property taxes will be paid when the owner sells the property or dies and their estate is settled.

The city charges an annual interest rate for the loan — depending on borrowing costs, between 2.5 and 6.5 percent.

Madison’s taxpayer supported school district is planning a substantial referendum for 2020.