If you're lucky enough to retire rich at 35, don't expect local government to offer you a property tax cut. Even if you retire at 65, your retiree status won't help -- but your age may make a big difference to your property taxes. Even if you're still working, age, income or disability may earn you a tax break.
Many states offer some sort of property tax break to seniors. Pennsylvania, for instance, offers tax rebates of up to $650 if you're 65 or older, or live with someone who is. The rebate is available only if the household annual income is under $35,000; seniors can exclude half their Social Security benefits from the income total, which may help. Ohio allows senior homeowners to apply for the homestead exemption -- a $25,000 reduction in the taxable value of the house -- without any financial restrictions.
County governments may offer seniors a property tax break as well. If your permanent residence is in Florida, for instance, the state lets you take $25,000 off your home's taxable value, regardless of age -- plus another $25,000 that applies to non-school property taxes. On top of that, some Florida counties offer homeowners older than 65 another $50,000 off their home's value. You have to meet an income limit to qualify for the county cut.
Age doesn't always find us in the best of health. If you're disabled by the time you turn 65 -- or even before that -- your disability may entitle you to a different tax cut. In Florida, for example, you qualify for a $500 exemption if you're disabled and another $500 if you're blind. If you're quadriplegic, there's no property tax due at all. Blind Floridians and homeowners in wheelchairs are also exempt from property taxes, provided they earn less than a set income level.
Don't assume your state's going to hand out the exemption like a housewarming gift. If you don't request the tax cuts you're entitled to, the authorities won't usually apply them. Claiming them may take work: To use Florida's disability write-off, for instance, you need your disability confirmed by two licensed Florida doctors. If there's an income restriction, you'll have to prove your income falls under the cut. A lot of exemptions require you actually own the home: Living with a homeowning son or daughter wouldn't count.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.