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Washington Tax Structure - Part 2

Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons Property Tax Exemption Program

The Program

The Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons Property Tax Exemption program provides a reduction in your property taxes; the taxes are not repaid.  The amount of your household income determines the amount of the reduction.

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Eligibility Requirements                                      

Age or Disability: To be considered a senior citizen, you must be at least 61 years old on December 31 of the year in which you apply. To be considered disabled, you must be unable to work because of a physical disability. A Proof of Disability Statement must be completed by your physician. This form can be obtained from the Assessor´s Office.

Ownership: A home owned by a married couple or by co-tenants is considered to be owned by each spouse or co-tenant.  To apply, only one person must meet the age or disability requirement.

You must own the home for which the exemption is claimed, either in total (fee owner), as a contract purchaser, mortgager, deed of trust, or as a life estate (including a lease for life).  If you transfer the home under a revocable trust agreement, you must retain full use of the property and be able to revoke the trust and take ownership at any time.  Irrevocable trusts qualify if they can be deemed a life estate.                                           

If you share ownership in a cooperative housing unit, you will be considered an owner if the share represents the specific unit or portion where you live.

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Residency: The property must be your principal place of residence on the date of our application. You must occupy the home for at least six months each year. Your residence may still qualify for both programs even if you are temporarily in a hospital or nursing home. Your residence may be rented during your hospital or nursing home stay only if the income is used to defray the hospital or nursing home costs.

Property used as a vacation home is not eligible for either program.

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Household Income: If your income from the year prior to the tax year is $35,000 or less, your home will be exempt from all excess or special levies. Excess or special levies are in addition to regular levies. They require voter approval and provide money for a specific purpose. School construction bonds and maintenance and operation levies are common examples. 

In addition to an exemption for all excess levies, a portion of the regular levy amount may be exempt if your income is $30,000 or less. This exempt amount is computed as follows:

If your household income is between $25,000 and $30,000, you will be exempt from regular levies for $50,000 or 35% of the assessed value, whichever is greater, not to exceed $70,000 of assessed value.

  • For example, if your household income is $27,000 and the assessed value of your property is $175,000, the taxable value of your property is $113,750 ($175,000 - $61,250 = $113,750)

If your household income is $25,000 or less, you will be exempt from regular levies on the first $60,000 or 60% of the home's assessed value, whichever is greater.

  • For example, if your household income is $22,000 and the assessed value of your property is $175,000, the taxable value of your property is $70,000 ($175,000 - $105,000 = $70,000)

Household income does not include:

  • The income of a person, other than a spouse, who does not have an ownership interest and lives in the home (however, the application must show any income that person contributes to your household)
  • The income of a person who has an ownership interest and lives elsewhere. However, if someone living elsewhere has an ownership interest, the amount of your deferral or exemption will be based on the percentage of your interest in the property.   

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Computing your disposable income
Deductions from disposable income

Effective Date: The effective date of the exemption is the date the taxes are paid.

  • Upon the death of a claimant the property taxes are recalculated to the full assessed amount of the principal residence on a pro rata basis beginning the day following the date of the claimant's death for the remainder of the year.
  • If you sell your home before the taxes are paid, the exemption will continue through your period of ownership, provided you pay the portion of taxes owing for your period of ownership and the new owner pays the portion of taxes for his period of ownership. If the new owner pays the entire amount, the taxes will be recalculated without using the exemption.

Death of the Applicant: Your surviving spouse may continue to receive the exemption if he or she is at least 57 years old and meets all other eligibility requirements.   

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Transfer of the Exemption: If you sell, transfer, or are otherwise displaced from your residence, you may transfer the exempt status to a replacement residence. However, you may not receive an exemption on more than the equivalent of one residence in any year.

If you are moving to Washington, you may transfer an exemption from another state to your new Washington residence, providing you meet all other eligibility requirements and provide proof of the exemption.

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How to Apply                                                      

When to Apply
Late Filing
Renewing exemption
Change in circumstances

When to Apply: You may apply for the exemption program any time during the year before the year the taxes are payable. For example, if you want to apply for an exemption for taxes due in 2005, you must apply no later than December 31, 2004 using 2004 income.

Late Filing: When your application is filed after the deadline, you must use the income from the same year as you would have if you had filed your application on time. For example, you would use 2004 income for a 2004 application to receive the exemption from the 2005 taxes.

Refunds: If you have paid prior years' taxes because of a mistake, inadvertence, or a lack of knowledge, you may apply for a refund by filing an application with the County Assessor. You must file the application within three years of the date the taxes were paid. Refunds will not be made beyond the three-year period.

Renewing the Exemption: After approval, the exemption applies in the following years. You must complete a renewal application if:

  • The Assessor's office requests to verify your income (periodically required),
  • Your income indicates a different level of exemption than you previously received,
  • You sell and move to a new home

Changes in Circumstances: You must file a Change of Status report with the Assessor's Office if changes in your income or living circumstances affect the exemption.  Change of Status forms are available in the County Assessor's Office.

Back to "How to Apply"

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Appeal Process: The County Assessor must tell you if your application is denied. You may appeal the Assessor's decision to the County Board of Equalization. The County Board of Equalization must receive your appeal by July 1 or within 30 days of when the denial notice was mailed, whichever date is later.                                          Back to Top