What Is Property Tax Relief?

By Connie Lai
There are many ways to qualify for property tax relief.

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Property tax relief is an exemption from tax charged against a real property. There are many ways to qualify for a property tax relief program. State and local programs are available to seniors, disabled veterans, non-profit organizations and buildings of historical significance. The key is to find the program for your unique circumstances in your home state or municipality. There will be certain minimum requirements that you must meet in order to benefit from tax relief programs in your area.

Senior Homeowners

Based on the individual's income and marital status, property tax credit may be given to qualified elderly and disabled homeowners. The town where the qualified property is located gets to decide the income and marital requirement of the homeowners. Sometimes, relief is given to seniors without income criteria. A tax freeze program exists in some states that freezes the property tax of a senior who has established a long-time residence in that state and some state governments reimburse towns for providing relief to elderly individuals.


Veterans who served during wartime, or who received an expeditionary medal, may qualify for the alternative veteran's exemption. The Cold War veteran's exemption is available to veterans who served during the Cold War period and who have not taken advantage of other relief programs for veterans.

Non-Profit Organizations

The State of California, among others, provides property tax relief for non-profit organizations operating as hospitals, religious associations or charitable organizations. The state board of equalization and California's county assessors jointly administer the exemption. California Assessors' Handbook Section 267 refers to the exemption as the welfare, church and religious exemptions. California State Board of Equalization Publication 48 discusses specific qualifications for property tax exemptions of religious organizations.


Many states encourage rehabilitation of obsolete properties in order to encourage economic revitalization in older towns. For instance, Michigan's Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (OPRA), Public Act 146 of 2000 provides property tax relief to commercial building owners for the purpose of rebuilding communities. This relief freezes the taxable value of the qualified rehabilitated property to the value it had prior to the improvements. An exemption is typically granted for one year to twelve years. The local government approves the exemption and determines the term of an exemption. The State of New York offers similar relief to commercial property owners with buildings in designated areas outside of Manhattan. Refer to New York Real Property Tax Law, Section 4.06 - RPTL §499-bb Commercial Rehabilitation Act for details.

Historic Properties

In an effort to preserve history, local governments work with the public to protect historic properties. For instance, some local governments in the state of California participate in the Mills Act Property Tax Abatement Program. The California Board of Equalization provides guidelines to county assessors for assessing properties under the Mills Act.

About the Author

Connie Lai began writing professionally in 2009. Her articles now appear on eHow and Answerbag. She provided editorial review of rule 26 expert reports in her previous position. Research includes metallurgical and industrial safety standards. Lai received her Master of Business Administration from Penn State, and bachelor's degrees from University of California-Berkeley in architecture and legal studies.

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