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State Shoots Hole in Senior Safety Net
April 2009 | Shirley King, Primavera


Senior Safety Net.  Photo: Art Olson

The Senior Citizens’ Property Tax Deferral Program was immediately suspended on February 20, 2009 when the Governor signed Chapter 4, Statutes of 2009. This legislation prohibits the filing of claims for property tax postponement. The State Controller will no longer accept claims filed after February 20, 2009 for property tax postponement pending modification or repeal of this new law.

The Senior Citizens’ Property Tax Postponement Act, signed into law in 1977, established the Property Tax Postponement (PTP) program. The PTP program’s intent was to provide a consistent methodology to allow property tax deferral for senior, blind, or disabled homeowners who may not have sufficient resources to meet their yearly property tax obligations.

In early 2008 California’s State Controller John Chiang urged eligible homeowners who need help paying their property taxes to apply for the PTP administered by his office. “For many seniors and disabled homeowners with low and fixed incomes, paying property taxes is a tremendous financial hardship,” Chiang said. “Too often, homeowners are faced with either selling their homes or losing them by defaulting on their property taxes. This program helps thousands of homeowners defer their property taxes and remain in their homes.”

An eligible homeowner qualified by being at least 62 years of age, blind, or disabled; by owning and occupying the property as his or her principal place of residence; by having a total household income of $35,500 or less for the 2008 application year; and by having at least 20% equity in the property.
The postponed property taxes accrued interest each month; however, repayment is not required until one of the following occurs:

• The homeowner moves;
• The home is sold;
• The homeowner dies and title passes to an ineligible person; or
• A senior lien (i.e., a mortgage) becomes delinquent.

The State foreclosed this safety net for our qualifying seniors with fixed and diminishing incomes. This safety net helped our seniors to keep their home by deferring their property taxes; gave them more disposable income; and eliminated the worry of paying property taxes. Now our State and County can look forward to increased county property tax default rates; lower county property tax collection rates; and an increased demand for some county social services.


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