CHARLOTTE, NC (Cassie Cope/ The Charlotte Observer - Low-income seniors and disabled homeowners may qualify for relief on their property taxes.
Property tax bills are increasing in gentrifying Charlotte neighborhoods, said Kim Graham, of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership.
That means some seniors are in jeopardy of losing their homes to tax lien foreclosure, she said. It also could result in seniors being pressured to sell their homes to "predatory investors" for less than their homes are worth, she said.
"The reality then is that they will wind up being homeless because the housing situation in Charlotte is so very dire," she said.
If seniors can take advantage of property tax breaks, then that can help them stay in their homes. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership and Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy will host five clinics to help people apply for the tax programs before the June 1 deadline to apply.
The tax breaks help provide ways for longtime residents to continue to be a part of popular neighborhoods that they helped create and develop, as property values rise, said Natalia Botella, an attorney with the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.
"It can be hard for these homeowners who are retired or on fixed incomes to absorb those changes as longtime residents," Botella said.
Only 7,025 homeowners participated in the three tax programs last year.
Elderly or disabled tax exclusion
Seniors over the age of 65 and permanently disabled individuals can qualify for the "Elderly or Disabled Property Tax Homestead Exclusion."
To qualify, property owners' income must not exceed $29,500, including both spouses if they are married. The tax break is more than $25,000 or 50 percent of the home's appraised value — whichever is greater. If the property has a tax value of $100,0000, then those who qualify for the Elderly or Disabled Property Tax Homestead Exclusion would have their tax bill calculated from a $50,000 value.
Disabled veteran exclusion
Any disabled veteran that has filed the NCDVA-9 Certification for Disabled Veteran's for Property Tax Exclusion forms will qualify.
There is no age or income limitation and the program excludes up to $45,000 of the appraised value of a home. Last year, 1,012 Mecklenburg County tax bill payers participated in the program.
Circuit Breaker Tax Deferment Program
The Circuit Breaker Tax Deferral Program reduces a resident's tax burden and delays when those taxes are due.
Seniors over the age of 65 and permanently disabled individuals can qualify if they make up to $44,250 a year.
A person would pay in taxes 4 percent of their 2017 income, if that income is up to $29,500. Or they would pay in taxes 5 percent of their income, if they make between $29,500 and $44,250.
The remainder of the tax would then be deferred until the owner dies or the property is transferred. Up to three years of property taxes would then be owed. Any liability owed above that would be forgiven.
How to get help
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership and Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy will host clinics to help people apply for the tax programs. To register or get more information, residents can call the Housing Partnership at 704-342-0933 x 227. Residents should bring a copy of their 2017 Federal Income Tax Return and other information showing their income. If residents are under 65 and disabled, they should bring a certificate from their doctor or a governmental agency stating they are permanently disabled. The clinics will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on: