Nevada County Treasurer-Tax Collector calls for signing of legislation to help keep seniors, people with disabilities in their homes
Nevada County Treasurer-Tax Collector Tina Vernon called on Governor Brown to sign AB 2231 (Gordon), which would re-establish the Senior Citizens and Disabled Citizens Property Tax Postponement program. The program was shuttered in 2009 by the previous Governor during the economic downturn.
The program is designed to assist seniors and disabled individuals to pay their property taxes by applying to the State Controller for assistance. The Controller would then make the property tax payment for eligible participants, and record a lien against the property that would be paid when ownership of the property is transferred. The program would be open to low-income seniors and disabled persons with an annual income of less than $34,000, who also maintain 40 percent equity in their homes. The program would keep seniors and people with disabilities in their homes, while keeping counties financially whole. Counties use property taxes to pay for critical services such as schools, roads and public health.
“When I took office in 2011, one of my goals was to work with the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors to bring this program back to the state, back to Nevada County,” said Vernon. “We are now so close to making this a reality, just one final push to convince the Governor that this is a program that is necessary for our seniors and disabled. Since the program ended in 2009, I have received numerous phone calls from taxpayers in this county, asking for any kind of assistance in paying their taxes; they are scared about losing their homes and rightfully so. It’s about the dignity and security of a financially vulnerable population.”
Before the previous program was defunded, approximately 6,000 homeowners were able to use this program to stay in their homes. Of these 6,000, 53 seniors and disabled in Nevada County relied on this program. The State Controller’s data shows that the program actually made the State money in most years, earning a modest dividend while keeping participants in their homes. The revamped program includes tighter controls on eligibility and is likely to have a steady and modest return due to improved lien recording technology and enhanced communications between the County and the Controller’s office on notification of property transfers.
The program has been inoperative since 2009; California law says that after five years of non-payment of property tax (with penalties accruing at 18% per year) that the home becomes eligible for tax sale. Tax Collectors statewide are seeing a spike in the number of homes that are becoming eligible for tax sale. Nevada County has 52 properties currently slated to be sold at tax auction on Nov. 15 of this year if not redeemed. A handful of these may be individuals that would qualify for such a program. In the absence of some legislative assistance from the Governor, those numbers are likely to continue rising.
You can find the proposed legislation here: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/asm/ab_2201-2250/ab_2231_bill_20140821_amended_sen_v93.htm.
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