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DC Property Tax Relief

12 Jan
D.C. Political Roundup: Bonds Fights for Property Tax Relief

Local journalists are excited about Anita Bond’s proposal to eliminate property taxes for persons over 65, who make less than $60,000.  It’s a good proposal and I support it, and more importantly, support making it larger, exempting more people from property taxes, especially low and moderate income people, and also dropping the age in Bond’s proposal to 62 or 60.  People who are trying to pay off mortgages or save for retirement just before they retire should also get this relief.

It’s hard though to view the proposal as something other than an appeal to 65+ voters, who are known to vote more heavily than many other groups, particularly in the local Democratic primary.  Especially since many of the people in this group already get property tax relief.

Here’s a summary of DC tax relief progams by the DCWatch blog:

TYPES OF DIRECT PROPERTY TAX RELIEF

It is fairly common for a single state to provide more than one type of property tax relief.(1) The District of Columbia is a case in point. Direct real property tax relief — excluding full exemptions for government, religious, educational, and such entities —includes:
  • Senior citizen tax reduction. Owners of class 1 property who are at least 65 years old, and who have under $100,000 in “annual household adjusted gross income” are eligible for a 50 percent reduction in real property tax liability [District Code, 47-863(b)]; an application is required every fifth year [District Code, 47-863(c)(2)]. 
  • Circuit breakers. The District extends residential property tax relief conditioned by income through credits against the personal income tax [District Code, 47-1806.6]. The basic characteristic is that the amount of relief declines as income rises, all else equal. In the District, renters may qualify for circuit breaker relief, with 15 percent of rent payments considered to be property tax. Two sets of credits are offered, one for persons of all ages, and a more generous one for those who are elderly (aged 62 or over), blind, or disabled;(2) the maximum income in each case is $20,000 and the maximum credit is $750.
  • Lower income homeownership tax abatement. The District provides a five-year, 100 percent tax abatement for first-time home buyers and selected organizations, to promote homeownership [District Code, 47-3501 through 47-3507].


So people over 65 who make under $100,000 already get a property tax break.

And new homebuyers with lower incomes (depending on family size) get a 5 year property tax abatement for the years immediately after purchase, as long as their income remains below a certain limit. Shouldn’t the property tax abatement for people who make barely enough to live in DC ($30,000 and less, $40,000 and less) be indefinite, and not last only 5 years?  Wouldn’t that be a more important form of tax relief, regardless of age?

And don’t all DC residents have a right to their own money? Shouldn’t they all get property tax rate cuts, so the DC government will have less money to waste on high salaries and pork projects?