Seniors have until March 1 to ask the Gila County assessor to freeze their property tax valuation under a state constitutional amendment approved by voters last November.
Designed to provide tax relief to seniors on fixed incomes, the measure Proposition 104 allows seniors who own their primary residences to apply for property valuation protection.
To qualify, at least one owner of the home must be at least 65 years old and meet income requirements. Qualified applicants can seek protection on single family homes, condominiums, townhouses or mobile homes and up to 10 acres of undeveloped accompanying land.
According to Gila County Assessor Dale Hom, the maximum income to qualify is $31,800 per couple and $25,440 per individual.
"The total income must be calculated for all persons listed on the property, even if they don't live there," Hom said.
A primary residence is one occupied by the taxpayer for an aggregate of nine months of the calendar year, and the owner must have resided in the primary residence for at least two years prior to applying for valuation protection. Proof of primary residence is several months of utility bills.
The valuation remains fixed for a three-year period, with the owner required to renew the option during the last six months of that period. The freeze terminates if the owner sells the home or otherwise becomes ineligible, and the property reverts to its original cash value as determined by the county assessor.
It does not apply to new additions or other improvements made to the home during the time the freeze is in effect, Hom said.
Eligible seniors can obtain an application at the assessor's office, 201 W. Frontier Street, or by calling 472-7973 or (800) 304-4452, ext. 209 or 210.
Property tax exemptions are also available to some widows, widowers and totally disabled persons 17 or older. Those who qualify may have the assessed value of their property reduced by $3,000.
First-time applicants should call the assessor's office at one of the above numbers and request an appointment with Hom or Hazel Dillon.