Ed Fuller

Ed Fuller

Property tax postponement for low-income seniors and disable people was adopted as a constitutional amendment in California by initiative in 1976 and was a statewide program till 2009 when the Legislature decided the state couldn’t afford it.

In its first 32 years, the program helped nearly 6,000 California seniors and disabled citizens stay in their homes when the expense of property taxes might have forced them to sell, while generating $41 million in revenue for the state.

At the end of August, both the state Assembly and Senate voted unanimously to restore the program effective for property taxes starting Jan. 1, 2016.

At this writing, the bill is awaiting the governor’s signature but, given that it was passed by a veto proof margin, it is likely he will sign it.

The law allows citizens who are older than 62 years of age, blind or disabled with incomes of less than $39,000 and at least 40 percent equity in their property to file an application with the State Controller’s Office to participate in the property tax deferral program.

If the claim is approved, a lien, bearing interest, will be placed on the home and the taxes will be paid directly to the county. The lien will be repaid on the sale of the home.

The lien must also be repaid if the property is refinanced or the claimant elects to participate in a reverse mortgage program.

Ed Fuller is a real estate broker with San Roque Realty Inc. and president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact him at ed@sanroquerealty.com or 805.687.1551. The opinions expressed are his own.