Monday, October 09, 2006

More on Real Estate Tax Relief

On the Eckington listserv there was a brief discussion on one of my posts about the Senior Citizen Real Estate Tax Relief. Before I go further I guess I should disclose that I benefit from another tax program because I am still considered low income (mainly because I've been stuffing pre-tax money into my retirement plan like a madwoman).

On the Eckington listserv someone mentioned abuse of the Real Estate tax relief. Younger relatives could still have an older deceased relatives' name on the real estate tax rolls. Of course, that could be a result of people not having wills (because no one wants to admit that they too will die) and the ownership being decided by various bickering relatives. That's a mess, and I don't know if the city has the authority to force a decision of which non-senior citizen relative gets the house, so the city can get its tax money.
The other kind of abuse is the homestead exemption. There is one fellow down my street who I think moved and is renting out his house..... but I'm not sure, 'cause every so often I see him around. Also the house is not a problem, he's a nice guy and I don't have an incentive right now (because I'm unsure) to pursue reporting him. With another house that was a problem, I did report the owner to the tax fraud office when I discovered he was receiving the exemption and the house was vacant. Yeah, I'm picking and choosing.
There are low income tax programs. I have no idea how they work. I know part of it is based on your AGI (Adjusted Gross Income), which is your salary and other income minus the money you should be stuffing into your retirement fund because Social Security is going to fail, alimony paid, penalties on early withdrawal of savings, self-employed health insurance payments, moving expenses, and some other stuff. I'm not a tax professional so consult someone else besides me. For people buying, if the house was $264K or less, and they meet certain income requirements they qualify for the abatement program. Another program, which is very useful for people who bought under a variety of assistance programs who made deals with the devil (like I did), is Resale Restricted Properties program. Long story short, I can't sell my house till 2011, all those great programs to get people of certain incomes into houses, have strings to keep them in those houses.


At 10/09/2006 11:34 AM, Anonymous Chris said...

A neighbor stopped by the other day and we were discussing related issues. He brought the number of locals with MD & VA tags on his block and I pointed out the number of MD & VA tags you see lined up to pick up children at DC area schools (e.g. Peabody, which is a very popular pre-K program in our neighborhood that has a huge waiting list).

I have a sense that DC in general is very lax about enforcing tax codes, school eligibility, or vehicle registration - basically any program that requires getting out into the neighborhood and tying someone receiving services to a particular address. It certainly needs to be addressed before the assistance program for grandparents as primary care-givers goes live, as that seems to be another area with great abuse potential.


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