Seniors turning 65 can reduce property tax bite in Alabama

By Michael Wetzel | Living 50 Plus

Homeowners turning 65 can reduce their property tax by having the state portion of the tax bite exempt if they apply for it by Dec. 31.

Morgan County Revenue Commissioner Amanda Scott said about 7,500 senior homeowners in the county are taking advantage of the age-related homestead exemption. She said that is about 17% of the county’s 43,640 parcels with homestead exemptions.

“A property owner is required to come into our office once they reach age 65 and verify their income by bringing in their federal and state income tax returns,” Scott said for those eligible.

The Alabama Department of Revenue defines a homestead as “a single-family owner-occupied dwelling and the land thereto, not exceeding 160 acres.”

It said the owner may receive a homestead exemption if he or she owns a single-family residence and occupies it as their primary residence on the first day of the tax year for which they are applying.

Those 65 and older also can receive exemptions from the county portion of property tax. Scott said depending on income, some seniors may even be eligible for not paying any property tax.

“If federal taxable income is $12,000 or less then there may not be any property taxes due for that tax year,” Scott said. “If that criteria is not met, the state of Alabama income tax return is used to determine if adjusted gross income is $12,000 or less. There will be a reduction in tax if it is.”

Frank Miles, spokesman with the state revenue department in Montgomery, said the agency did not have the data on what the average tax savings is per eligible homeowner. The senior also will receive the regular homestead exemption ($2,000 assessed value) on county taxes, according to the state’s website.

Seniors must file for the exemption every year. Once they establish initial eligibility, they can mail in copies of the required income tax forms in subsequent years, officials said.

“If you meet the eligibility requirements and want to apply for a homestead exemption, then head to the office of your county’s revenue commissioner or tax assessor,” Miles said.

Scott said, “It’s worth anybody’s time to come in.”

She said somebody 65 or older who doesn’t want to provide income tax forms, can still apply for the age-based exemption from state property tax.

Scott said those in Morgan County can claim their age exemptions at the county’s three revenue offices at the Morgan County Courthouse, the Hartselle Service Center on Schull Road or the District 4 office on Union Hill Road in Cotaco.