Property owners in Los Angeles County received an unwelcome surprise on their recent property tax bills — a new parcel tax for the “Safe Clean Water” program, approved by voters as Measure W on the November 2018 ballot.
The new tax is 2.5 cents per square foot of “impermeable area,” such as driveways, decks, homes and garages. Officials used satellite photography and computer software to calculate the tax for each parcel of property in the county.
Measure W provided for an exemption for low-income senior citizens. If you are the owner-occupier of your home and all the adults living there are age 62 or over, and if your household qualifies as “low income” as determined annually by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, you’re eligible for an exemption from the tax.
For fiscal years 2019–20 and 2020–21, the L.A. County low-income limit is a household income of $58,450 if one person lives in the household, $66,800 if two people live there and $75,150 if there are three residents.
To receive the Low-Income Senior-Owned exemption, you’ll have to complete an application form and submit it, along with required documentation, postmarked by May 1, 2020.
Property owners must file a new application for the exemption every year, no later than May 1. Applicants must reach the age of 62 (or older) before June 30 of the current fiscal year in order to get the exemption for the following fiscal year. (The fiscal year is the same as the tax year, running from July 1 through June 30.)
For the first Safe Clean Water fiscal year (FY 2019–20), Low-Income Senior-Owned tax exemption applications will be accepted until May 1, 2020, and are valid for both FY 2019–20 and 2020–21.
Separately, there is an appeals process for property owners who believe their tax has been calculated incorrectly. Appeals can be filed with the L.A. County Flood Control District. Credits may be available for property owners who have made stormwater-capture improvements on their property.
Many local parcel taxes passed by voters include exemptions for some eligible taxpayers. If you think you might be eligible, check your property tax bill for the phone numbers of districts and agencies that are collecting parcel taxes. Give them a call and ask if there are any exemptions for seniors, low-income households or other qualifying taxpayers.
The application for the exemption, as well as with the procedures and guidelines, can be downloaded below.