Need Help Paying Your Property Tax Bill?

Disabled veteran in wheelchair with kids and senior couple

North Carolina state law allows property tax relief for low-income seniors and disabled homeowners, as well as disabled veterans or their unmarried surviving spouse. There are three programs authorized by the General Assembly, with requirements that Wake County must follow. These programs can significantly reduce property tax bills for qualifying owners.

Program Highlights:

Reduce the taxable value of your home:
Homeowners who are 65 and older or 100% disabled can get $25,000 or up to 50% off their home value, whichever is greater, if they meet certain income and ownership requirements. Married couples can qualify even if only one partner is 65+ or disabled. This tax relief does not need to be paid back.

OR

Pay only a percentage of your income:
Seniors and those 100% disabled who’ve owned and occupied their homes for more than five years can choose a program that ensures their property tax bill will not be more than 4-5% of their income. Homeowners might have to pay some of this tax relief back, for example, if they move or sell their home.

OR

Veteran Discount:
Veterans with a total and permanent service-connected disability, or their unmarried surviving spouse, can get $45,000 off their property value, no matter what their income. This tax relief does not need to be paid back.

Program Details

Senior & Disabled Program

  • Also called the Elderly or Disabled Homestead Exclusion
  • Applicants must be 65 years of age or totally and permanently disabled as of January 1.
  • Gross income for 2021 for both an applicant and spouse cannot exceed $31,900.
  • For unmarried joint property owners, each owner must apply separately, and benefit limitations may apply based on the percent of ownership.
  • This is one-time application.
     

This program excludes from taxation the first $25,000 or up to 50% (whichever is greater) of home value. Exclusion means some of the value will not be considered when your tax bill is created. Even if you do not qualify for the program in future years, the excluded value from prior years does not become taxable.

Once approved for this program, you do not need to reapply unless your permanent residence has changed, your income now exceeds the current annual income eligibility limit, or you are no longer totally and permanently disabled. If the person receiving the exclusion last year was deceased prior to January 1 the person required by law to list the property must notify the Wake County Department of Tax Administration. The surviving spouse or joint property owner is required to reapply for the exclusion if qualified. Failure to make any of these notices before June 1 will result in penalties, interest, and the possible loss of the exclusion.

Tax Deferment

  • Also called the Circuit Breaker Program
  • Applicants must be 65 years of age or totally and permanently disabled as of January 1.
  • Gross income for 2021 for both an applicant and spouse cannot exceed $47,850.
  • For unmarried joint property owners, each owner must apply and qualify separately.
  • In addition, all owners must have owned and occupied the residence for the previous five years.
  • Homeowners must apply every year for this program.
     

Under this program, taxes for each year are limited to a percentage of the owner’s income. Taxes above the limitation amount are deferred, which means delayed until a future date. The last three years of deferred taxes become payable with interest if a disqualifying event occurs. Disqualifying events include death of the owner or transfer of the property where the owner’s share is not passed to another qualifying owner, and failure to use the property as the owner’s permanent residence.

For an owner whose 2021 income does not exceed $31,900, the owner’s taxes will be limited to 4% of their income. For an owner whose 2021 income exceeds $31,900 but does not exceed $47,850, the owner’s taxes will be limited to 5% of their income. Participation in this program requires all owners to apply and qualify. 

You must file an application for the Circuit Breaker Tax Deferment Program each year!

Disabled Veteran Program

  • Also known as Disabled Veterans Exclusion
  • Veterans discharged under honorable conditions or their unmarried surviving spouse may be eligible for a reduction in property tax.
  • There is no age or income limitation on this program.
  • This is a one-time application.
     

This program excludes up to the first $45,000 of the appraised value of the permanent residence of a veteran discharged under honorable conditions who has a total and permanent disability that is service-connected or who receives benefits for specially adapted housing under 38 U.S.C. 2101. Unmarried joint property owners must apply separately, and benefit limitations may apply based on the percent of ownership. If eligible, each owner may receive benefits under either the Elderly or Disabled Exclusion or the Disabled Veteran Exclusion. Once approved for the Disabled Veteran Exclusion, you do not need to reapply unless your disability or benefit status has changed.

How to Apply

The deadline to apply is June 1. If a married couple is the sole owner of a property, only one application is required. If multiple, unmarried owners are seeking tax relief for the same property, separate applications are required for each owner. Benefit limitations may apply.

Please note: Even though you may qualify for more than one program, you may only select one program. Scroll down for more details on each program to help with your selection.

If you’re still unsure, please call us at 919-856-5400.

Senior & Disabled Programs

Apply (English) Apply (Español) Disability Certification

Disabled Vet Program

Apply (English) Apply (Español) Disability Certification

To request an application to be mailed to you, please call our office at 919-856-5400. Applications can be submitted by emailing taxhelp@wakegov.com, mailed to PO Box 2331, Raleigh NC 27602, or hand-delivered to 301 S. McDowell St., Suite 3800, Raleigh.

Can I still apply after June 1? Late applications may be considered through the end of 2022 for reasons such as a physical or mental illness, hospitalization, death of taxpayer or immediate family member, or military deployment. There is a section on the application to explain the lateness and verify the cause. Each request will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Comparing the Tax Relief Programs

View a comparison of the Homestead Exclusion and the Circuit Breaker Deferment.

The comparison situations below are for a married couple, both over 65 years old, who have owned and lived in their residence for at least five full years. The income stated is the combined total for both applicant and spouse. The home is located in Raleigh and the combined tax rate for Wake County and Raleigh is 1.0125 per each $100 of assessed value.

The examples provide results for incomes of both $24,000 and $35,000 with home values of both $175,000 and $375,000.

Income $24,000
Home Value $175,000

  Exclusion Circuit Breaker
Taxable Value $87,500.00 $175,000.00
Tax on Value $885.94 $1,771.88
Tax Due & Payable $885.94 $960.00 *
Tax Deferred $0.00 $811.88

Income $24,000
Home Value $375,000

  Exclusion Circuit Breaker
Taxable Value $187,500.00 $375,000.00
Tax on Value $1,898.44 $3,796.88
Tax Due & Payable $1,898.44 $960.00 *
Tax Deferred $0.00 $2,836.88

Income $35,000
Home Value $175,000

  Exclusion Circuit Breaker
Taxable Value Not Qualified $175,000.00
Tax on Value Income exceeds program limit $1,771.88
Tax Due & Payable   $1,750.00 **
Tax Deferred   $21.88

Income $35,000
Home Value $375,000

  Exclusion Circuit Breaker
Taxable Value Not Qualified $375,000.00
Tax on Value Income exceeds program limit $3,796.88
Tax Due & Payable   $1,750.00 **
Tax Deferred   $2,046.88

 

* Tax limit for deferment is based on 4% of income.
** Tax limit for deferment is based on 5% of income.

The figures shown above are for comparison purposes only. Your individual property value and jurisdictional tax rates will apply.

 

 

FAQ

What is home value?

Home value is the value of a person's permanent, primary and legal residence. It includes the dwelling, the dwelling site, not to exceed one acre, and related improvements. The dwelling may be a single-family residence, a unit in a multi-family residential complex, or a manufactured home. Again, for all of these tax relief programs, the dwelling must be owned by the applicant. 

Who is a qualifying owner for the Senior & Disabled and the Tax Deferment Program?

A qualifying owner is an owner who owns and occupies their home as of January 1 and meets age, disability and income requirements of the specific program being applied for.

What is gross income?

It’s all money or income received BEFORE taxes or other deductions are taken out, NOT Adjusted Gross Income or AGI often used in IRS documents. Gross income includes money from salaries, wages, tips, commissions, bonuses, dividends, disability, severance pay, retirement, pensions, Social Security, owning or operating a business, renting property, trusts, annuities, bank interest, and gifts, prizes or inheritance received from anyone other than your spouse or direct relatives. For married applicants residing with their spouses, the income of both spouses must be included, whether or not the property is in both names.