For Immediate Release
May 20, 2019
Jason Erskine / 206-604-7085
Cathy MacCaul / 206-218-5915
Governor Inslee to Sign New Bill Providing Property Tax Relief to Seniors, Individuals with Disabilities and Veterans
EDITOR’S NOTE: Governor Jay Inslee is scheduled to sign Senate Bill 5160 on Tuesday, May 21 at 1:30pm.
Olympia, WA - AARP applauds Governor Jay Inslee and the Washington State Legislature for the bi-partisan support and passage of Senate Bill 5160, expanding Washington’s senior property tax exemption and deferral program for low-income senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, and veterans.
Beginning with taxes levied for collection in 2020, Senate Bill 5160 will expand the qualifying income thresholds for the property tax exemption and deferral programs. The bill creates a more equitable statewide solution for seniors by eliminating the current flat income rate used to determine eligibility. The previous income requirement to qualify of $40,000, or less, in annual income will now be replaced with an income level equal to 65 percent of the county median income.
“While there has been a reported cool-down of the real estate market in some parts of Washington, homeowners across the state are still experiencing sticker shock when it comes to paying property taxes,” said AARP Advocacy Director Cathy MacCaul. “Seniors on fixed incomes are struggling to pay these rising costs making it nearly impossible to stay in their communities. This bill will provide some much needed relief. AARP is especially grateful for the work of the primary bill sponsor Senator Manka Dhingra (D-45), leadership of Representative Gael Tarleton (D-36) Chair of the House Finance Committee, support of the King County Assessor, and the Washington Association of County Officials,” said MacCaul.
“Recent property tax changes have dramatically increased obligations in high cost-of-living areas; especially for our seniors and veterans who are on fixed incomes and are being priced out of their homes,” said prime bill sponsor Senator Manka Dhingra (D-45). “This legislation updates our property tax exemptions to account for regional differences so that the exemptions are based on local cost of living. This will ensure that people can continue living in the communities where they have raised their families,” she said.
“From day one of the legislative session, I have worked with lawmakers to reform and improve the senior citizen property tax exemption to include more people,” said Representative Gael Tarleton (D-36). “This does just that and in doing so includes seniors who stay in their homes or seek care outside of them and more veterans with disabilities. We now automatically adjust the threshold so median income levels change by county, instead of setting a fixed limit that can seriously limit eligibility in some counties,” said Tarelton. “And we lowered the disability rating eligibility from 100 percent to 80 percent for veterans with disabilities. As the senior citizen and veteran populations grow, this expanded eligibility will be there to help people stay in their homes. This was a top priority for me and ranks as one of the best victories for Washington in 2019,” she said.