Just the Facts

Deadline for 2024 property tax relief for seniors, veterans fast approaching

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Amy Kirkpatrick

Roughly two-thirds of Americans consider their local property tax to be too high, according to a study released in early 2024 by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.  

North Carolina understands the impact this tax has on specific groups, including older residents, disabled veterans, and permanently disabled communities. To address this concern, it has put in place a Property Tax Exclusion program to help reduce the tax burden on qualifying individuals. 

The deadline to request Property Tax Relief for 2024 is June 1. 

Christy Cabe (pictured above), who manages this program for the Macon County Tax Office, shared: “Most states have their own programs. One program [in other states] is the homestead exemption, but we don’t have that here. North Carolina’s is an income-based program.”  

For those 65 years of age and older or who are permanently disabled, the North Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR) has set the income limit for 2024 applications at $36,700 per household based on inflation and a cost-of-living adjustment. 

“It will be interesting to see what the [next] income [limit] will be,” said Cabe as she explained how the cap has increased each year since 2022. 

One limitation for some households with married partners is that dual income streams may disqualify some from the tax relief. 

“Say you have a married couple,” Cabe conjectured. “They both earn generous amounts of Social Security. Sometimes they’re not eligible. That’s not how this program was meant to be designed.”

North Carolina has begun looking at options to address this discrepancy. 

“The House of Representatives has to introduce a bill to get this program adjusted,” said Cabe, who carefully watches for new developments each season.

In the meantime, the program remains useful for many individuals, including widows and those who fit the income limit after their spouse passes. In its current formulation, “It does help a lot of people,” noted Cabe. “If you’re over 65, you’ve earned it. It’s a benefit.” 

One misconception about the program is whether those with vacation homes can apply. 

“You’re only eligible for one exclusion per state,” cautioned Cabe. “You can’t have a home here and in Florida and get an exemption in both states. It has to be where you reside permanently. “

Among the factors to determine your residency are, “You vote there, your cars are registered there, and you live there, full time.”

Cabe said she regularly receives requests from other state offices to verify non-duplication.

Veterans benefit

For Disabled Veterans to qualify, Cabe noted that unlike the age 65-and-older program, “There is no income limit. It’s a straight $45,000 taken off the value of your property. You must be 100% disabled according to the Veteran’s Administration. There’s [an extra] form that the VA has to fill out. It’s called a NCDVA—9. They can actually get that done at our local office here.” 

Veterans no longer have to send the request for certification to the Winston-Salem office. 

“They can do it locally,” said Cabe, adding that the local VA staff provides quality services. “It’s good that we can do it all in the same town now rather than mailing off the forms for at least a six-week wait.”

Unlike some other North Carolina counties, Cabe observed that “Macon County has a lot of benefits to veterans here. We have the VA Office here and the one over in Asheville. We’re seeing a lot of veterans of all ages.”

The disability program covers those who are collecting disability benefits but who are under age 65. In this case, a physician needs to complete an AV-9A form. For the age 65 years and over tax exclusion, a household must have had a revenue stream of no more than $36,700 in 2023 to qualify.

For purposes of calculating the final property tax for the year, Cabe said each household’s exclusions are for “one dwelling and one acre. If you have 10 acres, the exemption will only be applied to the [value of the] one house and one acre. But it’s still going to help. Every little bit helps!”

The Process

“There is a worksheet on the application that they can fill out,” continued Cabe. “If they’re not comfortable [completing this on their own,] we bring them in and help them fill it out.”  

All applicants must complete the Application for Tax Relief form (AV-9), which is available online at the North Carolina Department of Revenue (www.ncdor.gov). Once completed, “They can mail it, bring it in [to the office], or email it.”  

Cabe noted that the alternative methods of submission help those who are disabled or lack transportation.

“We try to be flexible with the June 1 deadline because we know ‘life is life,’” quipped Cabe, “but we also have to get everything in the system” to finalize the annual tax bills by the end of July. 

Cabe said more than 100 applications have already been approved for this coming tax year. If applicants are not able to meet this year’s deadline, applications for the next tax year begin on Jan. 1, 2025.

For those who want to learn more about this benefit or who may need assistance in gathering proof of income documentation, Cabe invites property owners to stop by at the Tax Office at 5 W. Main Street (Annex) to pick up a brochure, or to contact her by phone at (828) 349-2143. 

“Even if you’re not sure you qualify, it’s better to apply than not,” she concluded. “If you have questions, please give us a call. We’ll be happy to help. That’s what we’re here to do. To give you help where we can.”

Amy Kirkpatrick is a member of the Macon County Beekeepers Association.