LUMBERTON — More property owners are taking advantage of available property tax relief programs, according to Cindy Lowry, Robeson County’s tax administrator.
“With the economy the way it is, gas prices surging, and grocery prices going up, we want to do anything we can to help our citizens save money,” Lowry said. “Not everyone will qualify, but if they do we want them to use the available programs.”
Lowry said that a large number of people are calling the Tax Office and asking questions about the three tax relief programs that are detailed on the back of the annual real and personal property listing form that was recently mailed to property owners. She said that requests for program applications, which must be filed by June 1, are also on the rise.
The programs offering tax relief, all of which have eligibility requirements set by the state, include:
n Elderly or Disabled Exclusion. Under this program, the greater of the first $25,000 or 50 percent of the appraised value of a permanent residence is excluded. To be eligible, the property owner must be at least 65 years of age or permanently disabled. The property owner also cannot have a gross income for the previous year that exceeds $27,100, and must be a North Carolina resident.
— Homestead Circuit Breaker. Under this program, taxes each year are limited to a percentage of the property owner’s income. To be eligible, a property owner must be 65 years of age or totally and permanently disabled; owned and occupied the property as a legal residence for five years; be a North Carolina resident; and have an income that does not exceed $40,650.
If income is $27,100 or less, taxes on the permanent residence are limited to 4 percent of the income. Taxes on the permanent residence are limited to 5 percent if income is between $27,101 and $40,650.
— Disabled Veteran Exclusion. This program excludes up to the first $45,000 of the appraised value of the permanent residence of an honorably discharged veteran who has a total and permanent disability that is service-connected or receives benefits for specially adapted housing under 38 U.S C. 2101. There is no age or income limitation. This benefit is also available to the unmarried surviving spouse of an honorably discharged veteran.
Lowry said Friday that those who have previously applied for, and been granted, the elderly/disabled exclusion do not have to apply again as long as they continue to meet the $27,100 income limit. To receive the circuit-breaker exclusion, however, an application must be submitted each year, Lowry said.
Lowry said that she and her staff attempt to get out into the community as much as possible to educate the public about available property tax relief programs.
“Any time church groups or other organizations want us to speak about these programs we try to do it,” she said. “We want people to know about these programs, and if they are eligible we want them to use them.”
Program applications may be obtained at the Tax Office. located at the county courthouse on North Elm Street in Lumberton, or by downloading them from the Robeson County website, www.co.robeson.nc.us.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.