Property Tax Exemption

Property Tax Exemption for Arlington, Stanwood, and throughout Washington State

many home owners have missed the deadline to appeal their property taxes, but there is a little known Property Tax Exemption that may help lower those property taxes. If you are a senior citizen or disabled with your primary residence in Washington State, there are two programs that may help you pay your property taxes and/or special assessments. This post is taken from the Washington State Department of Revenue.

Program Overview

Under the exemption program, the value of your Washington State residence is frozen for property tax purposes, and you become exempt from all excess and special levies and possibly regular levies – resulting in a reduction in your property taxes. The exemption is available for your primary residence and up to 5 acres* of land. A mobile home may qualify, even if the land where the mobile home is located is leased or rented.

* The exemption is available for a primary residence and one acre of land. If local zoning and land use regulations require more than one acre of land per residence in the area where you live, you may be eligible for a property tax exemption on up to 5 acres of land.


Eligibility Requirementsassessor tax

To be eligible for this program you must meet the age or disability, ownership, residency, and income requirements.

 Age and Disability

You must be at least 61 years old on December 31 of the application year, or unable to work because of a disability, or a veteran entitled to and receiving compensation from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs at a total disability rating for a service-connected disability. Your application must include proof of your age or disability.

 Example: Your 61st birthday is in November 2012. You may file a 2012 application requesting an exemption on your 2013 taxes.


You must own your home in Washington State for which the exemption is claimed in total (fee owner), as a life estate (including a lease for life), or by contract purchase. A home owned jointly by a married couple, a registered domestic partnership, or by co-tenants is considered owned by each spouse, domestic partner, or co-tenant. Only one person must meet the age or disability requirement. If you share ownership in a cooperative housing unit and your share represents the specific unit or portion where you live, you will be eligible for the exemption of your unit. If your primary residence or the land under your primary residence is owned by a government entity and you meet the program requirements, you may be eligible for a comparable leasehold excise tax exemption.


The property must be your primary residence at the time your application is due. You must occupy the home for more than six months each year. Your residence may qualify even if you are temporarily in a hospital, nursing home, boarding home or adult family home. You may rent your residence to someone else during your stay in one of these facilities if The rental income is u

Household Income

Your annual household disposable income may not exceed $35,000. If your household income is between $35,000 and $40,000, you may qualify for the deferral program. See the Property Tax Deferral for Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons fact sheet for more information. Household income includes the combined disposable income of you, your spouse or domestic partner, and any co-tenants. A co-tenant is a person who lives in your home and has an ownership interest in your home. Household income does not include income of a person who:

  • does not have ownership interest and lives in your home, except for a spouse or domestic partner. However, you must include any income that person contributes to the household.
  • has ownership interest in your home but does not live in the home. If someone living elsewhere has any ownership interest, the amount of your exemption will be based on the percentage of your interest in the property.

Property Tax and Levies Eligible for Exemption

The value of your residence is “frozen” as of January 1, 1995, or January 1 of the initial application year, whichever is later.

Example: If you meet the qualifications in the 2012 application year, the taxable assessed value for your residence will remain “frozen” at the 2012 level, unless there is a change in your status or new construction. The assessor will continue to establish the property market value, but you will only be billed for taxes on the lower of the market value or the frozen value. If your annual income for the application year is $35,000 or less, your home will be exempt from all excess and special levies. Excess and special levies are in addition to regular levies. They require voter approval and provide money for a special purpose, for example, school bonds and maintenance and operation levies. In addition, if your income is $30,000 or less, a portion of the regular levy amount may be exempt.

  • If your household income is between $25,001 and $30,000, you are exempt from regular levies on $50,000 or 35 percent of the assessed value, whichever is greater (but not more than $70,000 of the assessed value).

For example:

Household income $26,000

Assessed home value $150,000

Taxable property value $97,500

(35 percent of $150,000 = $52,500)

($150,000 – $52,500 = $97,500)

  • If your household income is $25,000 or less, you are exempt from regular levies on the first $60,000 or 60 percent of your home’s assessed value, whichever is greater.

For example:

Household income $12,000

Assessed home value $150,000property tax photo

Taxable property value $60,000

(60 percent of $150,000 = $90,000)

($150,000 – $90,000 = $60,000))

Computing Disposable Income

The maximum amount of annual income you may receive and qualify for the exemption is $35,000. The disposable income you receive during the application year determines your eligibility.

Example:You are filing a 2012 application requesting an exemption on your 2013 taxes. You must use your 2012 income to qualify. Disposable income includes income from all sources, regardless of whether the income is taxable for federal income tax purposes. Some of the most common sources of income include:

  • Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefits.
  • Military pay and benefits other than attendant-care and medicade payments.
  • Veterans benefits other than attendant-care and medical-aid payments. Beginning with the 2008 income year, you may exclude your veteran’s disability compensation and your dependency and indemnity compensation.
  • Pension receipts. Include distributions from retirement bonds, Individual Retirement Accounts, and Keogh plans.
  • Business or rental income. Depreciation cannot be deducted and you may not deduct business or rental losses or use those losses to offset other income.
  • Annuity receipts. For purposes of this program, “annuity” is defined as a series of payments under a contract. Annuity contracts typically pay a fixed sum of money at regular intervals for more than one full year. Some examples of annuity payments include: proceeds from life insurance contracts, unemployment compensation, disability payments, and welfare receipts (excluding amount received for the care of dependent children).
  • Interest and dividend receipts.
  • Capital gains other than the gain from the sale of your primary residence that was reinvested in another primary residence within one year. Capital losses may not be deducted from income or used to offset capital gains. If there was a change in your income prior to November 1 that is expected to last indefinitely, you may estimate your income. Multiply your new average monthly income by 12.

Example:You retired in September and your monthly income is reduced from $2,000 to $1,000 beginning in October. Multiply $1,000 x 12. The total $12,000, is your new estimated annual disposable income.

Deductions from Disposable Income

To determine your combined disposable income you may take deductions for the following expenses paid by you, your spouse, or your domestic partner:

  • Non-reimbursed amounts paid for you, your spouse, or your domestic partner to live in a nursing home, boarding home, or adult family home.
  • Non-reimbursed amounts paid for prescription drugs for you, your spouse, or your domestic partner. Insurance premiums for Medicare under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act.
  • Non-reimbursed amounts paid for goods and services that allow you, your spouse, or your domestic partner to receive in-home care. The care received must be similar to the care provided by a nursing home. In-home care includes medical treatment, physical therapy, Meals on Wheels (or similar services), and household and personal care. Personal care includes assistance with preparing meals, getting dressed, eating, taking medications, or personal hygiene. Special furniture and equipment such as wheelchairs, hospitals beds, and oxygen also qualify.


Applying for the Exemption

Your county assessor administers this program and is responsible for determining if you meet the qualifications. Please contact Snohomish County Assessor or your local assessor’s office to request an application form.

If you want an exemption for taxes due in 2015, your application is due December 31, 2014. Your assessor has the authority to accept late applications and, because the assessor uses your 2014 income to determine whether you meet the income requirements, most assessors request that you wait until you receive your year-end income information to submit your application.


This article was prepared by the Taxpayer Services Division of the Washington State Department of Revenue. The material is intended for general information purposes and does not alter or supersede any administrative regulations or rulings issued by the Department of Revenue. For more information please contact the Snohomish County Assessors Office or your local Assessors Office.

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  1. Gretchen says:

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  2. I did not know about this. I’m retired and on a fixed budget. I am going to contact the assessor tomorrow. Thanks for the great article. I would like to see more articles like this. Marie

    • Marie, there is also a program to defer a portion of your property taxes. Contact Snohomish County Assessor for more information, and please tell others about our site. Thanks