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VERIFY: Yes, seniors in NC can apply for property tax breaks

Last week, Mecklenburg County mailed out bills for property taxes. Some want to know if there is any relief for seniors.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With inflation driving up the cost of pretty much everything in 2022, many people are struggling to pay their bills. 

One of the most vulnerable populations is seniors, who are often living on a fixed income, budgeting every penny to make ends meet. So what happens to seniors if their property taxes are higher than they can afford? 

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THE QUESTION

The VERIFY team got this email from viewer Patricia G.

"I would like to know if NC or Charlotte have any programs for seniors regarding property taxes." 

OUR SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

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Yes, North Carolina and Charlotte have programs for seniors regarding property taxes. 

WHAT WE FOUND

Mecklenburg County sent WCNC Charlotte a list of three different programs targeting seniors available in North Carolina. 

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Elderly or Disabled Exclusion

DescriptionThis program excludes the greater of the first $25,000 or 50% of the appraised value of the permanent residence of a qualifying owner. A qualifying owner must either be at least 65 years of age or be totally and permanently disabled. The owner cannot have an income amount for the previous year that exceeds the income eligibility limit for the current year, which for the 2022 tax year is $31,900

Multiple Owners: Benefit limitations may apply when there are multiple owners. Each owner must file a separate application (other than husband and wife). Each eligible owner may receive benefits under either the Elderly or Disabled Exclusion or the Disabled Veteran Exclusion. The Circuit Breaker Property Tax Deferment cannot be combined with either of these two programs.

Disabled Veteran Exclusion

Description: This program excludes up to the first $45,000 of the appraised value of the permanent residence of a disabled veteran. A disabled veteran is defined as a veteran whose character of service at separation was honorable or under honorable conditions and who has a total and permanent service-connected disability or who received benefits for specially adapted housing under 38 U.S.C. 2101. The applicant must have been disabled as of January 1 of the year in which the benefit is requested. There is no age or income limitation for this program. This benefit is also available to a surviving spouse (who has not remarried) of either (1) a disabled veteran as defined above, (2) a veteran who died as a result of a service-connected condition whose character of service at separation was honorable or under honorable conditions, or (3) a servicemember who died from a service-connected condition in the line of duty and not as a result of willful misconduct. See G.S. 105-277.1C for the full text of the statute.

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Multiple Owners: Benefit limitations may apply when there are multiple owners. Each owner must file a separate application (other than husband and wife). Each eligible owner may receive benefits under either the Disabled Veteran Exclusion or the Elderly or Disabled Exclusion. The Circuit Breaker Property Tax Deferment cannot be combined with either of these two programs.

Circuit Breaker Property Tax Deferment

Description: Under this program, taxes for each year are limited to a percentage of the qualifying owner’s income. A qualifying owner must either be at least 65 years of age or be totally and permanently disabled. For an owner whose income amount for the previous year does not exceed the income eligibility limit for the current year, which for the 2022 tax year is $31,900, the owner’s taxes will be limited to 4% of the owner’s income. For an owner whose income exceeds the income eligibility limit ($31,900) but does not exceed 150% of the income eligibility limit, which for the 2022 tax year is $47,850, the owner’s taxes will be limited to 5% of the owner’s income.

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However, the taxes over the limitation amount are deferred and remain a lien on the property. The last three years of deferred taxes prior to a disqualifying event will become due and payable, with interest, on the date of the disqualifying event. Interest accrues on the deferred taxes as if they had been payable on the dates on which they would have originally become due. Disqualifying events are death of the owner, transfer of the property, and failure to use the property as the owner’s permanent residence. Exceptions and special provisions apply. See G.S. 105-277.1B for the full text of the statute.

YOU MUST FILE A NEW APPLICATION FOR THIS PROGRAM EVERY YEAR

Multiple Owners: Each owner (other than husband and wife) must file a separate application. All owners must qualify and elect to defer taxes under this program or no benefit is allowed under this program. The Circuit Breaker Property Tax Deferment cannot be combined with either the Elderly or Disabled Exclusion or the Disabled Veteran Exclusion.

"You have to reach a certain age and you have to hit a certain income,"  Shaheen said. 

Two of the programs listed above have a minimum age requirement of 65 or are limited to people who are disabled. 

"There are a lot of rules on these, and I would say they need to if you think you may qualify to work with a tax professional to see," Henry said. 

Shaheen said if you don't qualify for these programs, you should always check to make sure your property tax is calculated correctly, and you are paying the right amount. 

"You need to appeal that value if you feel it's not 100% market value," Shaheen said. 

Mecklenburg County also offers a HOMES program that is available to assist residents and only has an income limit, not an age limit. 

Contact Meghan Bragg at mbragg@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit VERIFY.

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