Potomac News Online | Proposed tax program to make payments easier on seniors

With home assessments surging across the county, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors has a plan to soften the real estate tax blow for seniors.

During their meeting today, the supervisors will discuss whether to allow seniors and permanently disabled homeowners to pay real estate taxes in monthly installments.


Articles and online tax resources

A vote on the proposal is scheduled for April — in time for qualified homeowners to begin monthly tax payments this year.

Annual real estate tax bills are normally paid in two installments due July 15 and Dec. 15.

According to Chairman Sean T. Connaughton, R-at large, many homeowners now pay their taxes monthly as part of their regular mortgage payments.

However, for seniors who already paid off their homes, taxes are still due in two lump sum payments. The new installment plan would let qualified homeowners avoid these large semi-annual tax bills, Connaughton said.

According to the county Department of Finance, homeowners older than 65 account for 4.5 percent of households in the county.

The finance department estimates that 3,000 households would qualify for the monthly payment plan and that 2,000 will participate.

If 2,000 people sign up for the installment plan, it would cost the county approximately $100,000 — $40 from lost interest and $10 in additional administrative costs for each participant, according to finance department estimates.

To be eligible for the the payment plan, homeowners would have to apply to the director of finance by June 1.

The proposed county budget for fiscal year 2006 includes a real estate tax reduction from $1.07 to 92.4 cents. The cut will offset, but not eliminate, a rise in the average homeowner’s tax bill. Under the budget proposal, the average property tax bill for fiscal year 2006 would rise to $3,020, up from $2,852 for 2005.

Staff writer Chad Umble can be reached at (703) 878-3843.

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