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D.C. Legislator Proposes Exempting Certain Senior Citizens From Property Taxes

Certain senior citizens in D.C. could eventually be exempted from paying property taxes.
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Certain senior citizens in D.C. could eventually be exempted from paying property taxes.

As Washington, D.C.'s population increases and the housing market picks up again, some of the city's long-time elderly residents run the risk of falling victim to increasing property taxes that they can't afford to pay. Now a group of D.C. legislators wants to help them.

Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large) today introduced a bill that would exempt certain elderly residents from paying property taxes on their homes. The bill's provisions would limit the exemption to residents over the age of 75 who have lived in the city for more than 25 years and make less than $60,000 a year.

"This is an act that will ease the financial burden on them," said Bonds, who argued that senior citizens can more easily fall victim to rising costs of living than other residents. She said that 11 percent of the city's population is over the age of 65, and 19.7 percent of those fall below the poverty line, a higher proportion than in other age groups.

According to the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Bonds' bill would cost D.C. $16 million over four years. The city's current residential property tax rate is $0.85 for every $100 of assessed value.

D.C. already offers some relief to certain homeowners—under the Low-Income Homeownership Exemption program, residents falling below certain income thresholds and living in homes costing less than $367,000 can apply for a five-year abatement from property taxes. Residents over the age of 65 can also qualify for a 50 percent property tax break.

Bonds picked up support from both council members Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), both of whom are running for mayor and have proposed similar measures in the past.

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