Former program participants may now apply for readmission on first-come, first-served basis
In mid-December, the Oregon Department of Revenue began advising former participants in the state's senior property tax deferral program that they were eligible to apply for readmission, beginning Jan. 2.
Letters are being sent to all former program participants with inactive accounts, advising them that they have an opportunity to reapply between Jan. 2 and April 15, 2014.
Under House Bill 2510, legislation adopted during the 2013 legislative session with the support of the Alliance of Vulnerable Homeowners and other low-income and consumer advocacy groups, up to 700 former participants will be allowed to re-enter the program next year, regardless of how long they have lived in their homes or if they have reverse mortgages.
If readmitted into the tax-relief program, eligible homeowners will be able to defer payment of local property taxes in 2014 and subsequent years, until they move, sell their homes or die.
According to David Raphael, a spokesperson for the alliance, the reprieve being offered former deferral recipients is in response to the numerous outcries by homeowners who were dropped from the program in 2011 when the Legislature abruptly changed eligibility rules.
At the time, more than 5,000 vulnerable homeowners lost state help with their property taxes and faced the possible loss of their homes.
In March this year, lawmakers grandfathered in 1,500 homeowners terminated from the deferral program simply because they had reverse mortgages.
The Legislature passed HB2510 two months later, which the Department of Revenue is now implementing. It allows an additional 700 former program participants to apply for reinstatement beginning this month.
The revenue department is advising former participants that 2014 applications can be downloaded on the DOR's website, which can be found at www.oregon.gov/dor/PTD/docs/deferral-disabled-senior_490-015.pdf, and will soon be available from local tax assessors.
Completed applications should be submitted to local county assessors offices, which will forward them to the DOR in Salem for processing.
Since applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, interested homeowners are being advised to get theirs filed on Jan. 2 or very soon thereafter.
The alliance is a statewide consumer organization representing senior, disabled and other low-income homeowners in Oregon. In December 2011, it was created to speak up for the more than 5,000 participants in the Senior and Disabled Property Tax Deferral Program who lost their deferral assistance.
AVH serves as a voice for distressed homeowners and raises public consciousness about the needs of disadvantaged homeowners in the state, plus it offers ideas and recommendations for improving the property-tax deferral and other state tax-relief programs.
For more information on the alliance, contact David Raphael at 503-235-7840 or at www.vulnerablehomeowners.org.