Public Hearing Set on Proposed Changes to Real Estate Tax Relief for

Published on June 19, 2018

(Note: This was corrected 06/20/2018 to add the Board vote)

  • Board will hold public hearing, vote in July

  • Proposed changes based on Working Group recommendations

  • Would extend application deadline, increase exemption asset limit and more

The Arlington County Board today voted unanimously to hold a public hearing at its July 2018 Meeting on proposed changes to the County Real Estate Tax Relief for the Elderly program. The proposed changes would extend the application timeline and change some eligibility criteria for the program, among other adjustments.

"A lot of thought and effort has gone into this review of the program, to ensure it is achieving the goal of helping low-income senior households on fixed incomes, and persons who are permanently disabled, stay in their homes," Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol said. "We have heard from many community members, advocates and current program participants, and look forward to hearing from more at the public hearing in July."

The proposed changes include extending the application deadline from August 15 to November 15; allowing for the provision of retroactive real estate tax relief of up to two years under extreme circumstances; increasing the program's exemption asset limit from $340,000 to $400,000; adjusting the asset limits annually, based on changes in the Consumer Price Index; revising the method for calculating applicants' assets, and more. The Board also included options to potentially limit program eligibility for properties worth more than $1 million.

County sealIf the proposed changes are adopted, the amount of tax revenue that the County would forego would decrease by an estimated net of $153,898. The County would pay about $3,200 in one-time administrative expenses to reprogram existing systems in the Department of Human Services and the Treasurer's Office. The effect of allowing applicants to adjust their assets using various deductions is not known at this time.

Most of the proposed changes, if adopted in July by the Board, would take effect Jan. 1, 2019.

About the Real Estate Tax Relief Working Group

The proposed changes stem from the work of the Real Estate Tax Relief Working Group, appointed by the County Manager in 2016, at the direction of the Board. The working group was charged with studying the tax relief program and developing recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2018 budget process. Members included representatives from the County's commissions on aging, disability, fiscal affairs and housing, as well as a member-at-large, and tax relief program participants. The working group presented its final report and recommendations in April, 2017.

About Real Estate Tax Relief for the elderly, permanently disabled

Virginia localities are authorized to provide Real Estate Tax Relief to homeowners aged 65 or over, as well as to permanently disabled homeowners. Arlington's program is overseen by the Department of Human Services. In 2015, 940 Arlington households were approved for tax relief under the program, resulting in $4.2 million in uncollected revenue.

The 2015 Affordable Housing Master Plan found that many low-income senior households on fixed incomes face financial stress related to increasing condominium fees and real estate taxes. The plan's implementation framework recommended that the goals and guidelines of the tax relief program be reviewed, and that income levels, asset levels and criteria for exemptions and deferrals be considered for redefinition.

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