State Property Tax Freeze and Assessment Freeze Programs

12/31/2012

construction siteThe property tax is the primary source of revenue for local governments in the United States. However, according to researchers at the National Center for Policy Analysis, the property tax has historically been one of the most unpopular taxes, largely because it is one of the most noticeable taxes, as most homeowners write a few checks a year to pay for it. For older Americans living on fixed incomes, the tax can be a concern because of worries over being priced out of their homes. Because of the unpopularity of the tax, property tax limits have become common throughout the country. Nearly all states have homestead exemption and credit programs in place for seniors and other qualifying individuals to exempt a certain amount of a home’s value from taxation. At the same time, six states have property tax freeze programs that bar property tax increases for eligible individuals. These programs are usually an optional program for local governments. Ten states have assessment freeze programs that limit how much property values can increase in a year for tax purposes. The following charts list state property tax freeze programs and property assessment freeze programs for 14 states (Oklahoma and Rhode Island have both property tax freeze and assessment freeze programs).

CT| NJ| OK| RI| TN| TX  
 

States with Property Tax Freezes
State Year Enacted Age Requirement Income limit Additional
Connecticut 2006 Age 70 or older No The program is a local government option and not a requirement. Local governments may set asset limits. An applicant must have lived in Connecticut for at least one year before applying. A surviving spouse who is age 62 or older may also apply.
New Jersey 1998 Age 65 or older Yes The current limit is $70,000 (both single or married), but the limit can change from year to year. The program is essentially a reimbursement program: The amount reimbursed is the increase (if any) above the amount of property tax paid in the first year the applicant qualified.
Oklahoma 1996 Age 65 or older No The program is a local government option and not a requirement. Local governments may set asset limits.
Rhode lsland 2009 Age 65 or older No more than $4,000 The program is a local government option and not a requirement.
Tennessee 2006 Age 65 or older Yes The program is an option for counties and/or municipalities and not a requirement. The income limit would be set by the counties. Applicants would have to apply annually. Improvements to the property would increase the tax base amount.   
Texas 2003 Age 65 or older No The program is a local government option and not a requirement. The tax ceiling is set at the amount paid in the year the applicant qualifies; it may go up if the property is improved unless the improvements are for repairs or standard maintenance.

 
  

AZ| AR| GA| IL| LA| NM| OK| RI| SD| WA

States with Assessment Freezes
State Year Enacted Age Requirement Income Limit Additional
Arizona 2000 Age 65 or older None Disabled individuals and permanently totally disabled veterans may also apply.
Arkansas 2001 Age 65 or older Yes The income limit is less than 400% of the Supplemental Security Income benefit rate for individuals and less than 500% for joint owners.
Georgia 1994 Age 62 or older Less than $30,000 This program may be used in lieu of, not in addition to, any other homestead exemption.
Illinois 1994 Age 65 or older Less than $55,000 A surviving spouse need not be age 65 or older who otherwise meets the income qualification.
Louisiana 2000 Age 65 or older Currently less than $67,000. A limit of $50,000 was set in 2001 and is adjusted annually by the Consumer Price Index.  Permanently totally disabled individuals and veterans who are at least 50% disabled may also apply.
New Mexico 2000 Age 65 or older Currently less than $32,000. This limit was set in 2010 and is adjusted annually by the Consumer Price Index. Applicants must apply annually.
Oklahoma 2004 Age 65 or older Yes The income limit is set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the applicant's county.
Rhode lsland 2009 Age 65 or older Yes The state authorized freezes for eight towns. However, the freeze currently applies to five towns; income limits and other additional requirements are determined locally.
South Dakota 1980 Age 65 or older Yes The income limit is $25,116.03 (single) or $31,395.04 (married) and adjusted by the Consumer Price index. The applicant must have resided for at least 200 days of the previous calendar year in the property.
Washington 1995 Age 61 or older Less than $35,000 Individuals who retire because of a disability or veterans who are 100% disabled may also apply. A surviving spouse or domestic partner of someone who had been eligible may also apply if they are age 57 or older and meet all other requirements.
Source: NCSL, December 2012