Can't afford your property-tax bill? See if you qualify for this tax break

August 03, 2012|Jamie Smith Hopkins

If you're a homeowner making $60,000 or less, you might qualify for help on your property taxes. But the deadline to apply is fast approaching.

The Homeowners' Property Tax Credit, intended to help low- and moderate-income owners, caps the amount you must pay based on your income. The limit ranges from $4,380 as the maximum tab for eligible recipients making $60,000, all the way down to $0 for those with $8,000 or less in household income.

The basic rules go like this: No more than $60,000 in total household income, and a net worth of less than $200,000 -- not including the value of the home and any qualified retirement savings.

There's a cap on the cap, though. You only get the benefit on $300,000 of your home's value, so if the assessment is higher, anything above that amount will be fully taxed.

Deadline to apply: Sept. 1. (Unlike the separate homestead credit for owner-occupiers, this break requires you apply annually.)

If you apply in time and qualify, you'll get the break for the current tax year. And if you scraped up the money to pay already, you'll get a check refunding the difference.

Keep in mind that the state wants to see your tax returns as proof of income, so it will be your earnings of the recent past, not present, that matter. Get all the details here.

Census Bureau figures suggest there are a lot of city homeowners who might be eligible but aren't receiving the credit. So pass the word on.

By the way, there's another tax credit aimed at renters, the idea being that tenants ultimately shoulder the cost of the property taxes.

But the Renters' Tax Credit has more stringent requirements on top of income: You must be at least age 60, fully disabled or living with a child under 18. (The link takes you to the state's webpage about the program, which has more details.)

Got a housing news tip or experience to share? (Or just want to tell me something?) Email me at jhopkins@baltsun.com.

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