Tax and Fee Exemptions & Discounts for Seniors Low & Middle Income People with Disabilities & Medical Conditions MMWD & PGE Customers Who are Overpaying

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Because so many tax- and rate-payers miss out on cost-saving opportunities for which they may qualify, CO$T distributes this informational bulletin to Marin County taxpayer-voters each spring, updated to include new discounts and exemptions as well as increased thresholds for income-based exemptions and discounts.
Please read this entire post! You may be surprised to find you are eligible to pay less!

Time is short to submit applications for exemptions and discounts on an array of Marin add-on property taxes and agency fees as well as rates on essential services such as water and sewer. Residents who may qualify include those who are seniors, disabled, have low to MODERATE income, have larger families, and have special circumstances (e.g., medical conditions that require extra water or electricity).Many Marin individuals and families who consider themselves middle-class qualify for “low income” discounts: Income cutoffs are often at 80% of Marin’s median or the even more generous income levels used by HUD to determine eligibility for housing assistance. All income-based discounts have upward adjustments for family size.

Several agencies also provide financial incentives that are unrelated to income.
We tell you below how to find out which of the taxes, fees, and rates you pay offer exemptions and discounts, how and when to apply, and how to determine if you qualify.


Marin County’s Property Tax Exemption webpage has a full list of the agencies whose taxes are collected via property tax bills and may offer discounts/exemptions. (Certain agencies, e.g., water, send a bill to the property owner or renter directly and offer discounts, some of which we describe further down this page.)

If you enter your parcel number in the box on the county’s exemption page, the website pulls up a list of all the agencies that bill YOU through your property tax bill. The list also identifies the specific agencies on your tax bill that offer exemptions. For each one, there is a telephone number for more details regarding the criteria and deadlines; in many instances, there is a hotlink to the application form.

BIG POTENTIAL SAVINGS ON SCHOOL PARCEL TAXES: Most school districts offer parcel tax exemptions for ALL seniors 65 and older; some offer exemptions for low-income and disabled taxpayers as well. On the county’s exemption page for your tax bill (see above), you’ll find that school parcel taxes are the largest exemptions and discounts available. Some school districts have exemption application deadlines around May 1 so you may need to act quickly. School income- and disability-based discounts require annual filing. School parcel tax exemptions for seniors need only be applied for once, though you may need to file a new application if the person listed on your tax bill changes. Read your tax bill (or tax exemption page) carefully. You are likely paying school parcel taxes to multiple districts (e.g., K-8 and high school). If so, you must file separate exemption applications for each district to maximize your savings. Note that CA law doesn’t permit school bond tax measures to offer senior exemptions or discounts, an important fact about which many taxpayer-voters are unaware.
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Mark your calendar! Reapply annually for any expiring exemptions!
Several non-school discounts and exemptions are available, most of which require annual refiling or verification. Listed below are some of the more financially significant ones offered.

There is a low-income senior exemption (65+) for the Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority parcel tax. YOU MUST REAPPLY EVERY YEAR to reconfirm proof of income level. Your application must be postmarked by June 30. Learn how to apply here. Don’t assume you are ineligible! Many middle-income households qualify. The latest posted income limit (updated annually) is $104,400 for a 1-person household; $119,300 for two people; $134,200 for three; $149,100 for four; and $161,050 for five; these limits are typically increased in early summer. This tax is assessed on building square footage. To ensure you’re not being overcharged, you should also verify that the official records show that the square footage of your property is accurate. If not, contact the Assessor’s office.

Note that some agencies such as the MWPA do not acknowledge receipt or approval of your exemption/discount application. Consequently, you should keep proof of all your exemption/discount applications and then carefully review your tax bill AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVE IT. If you can prove that your valid application was not reflected on your tax bill, immediately contact the agency to ask for an adjustment. Advocating on behalf of taxpayers, CO$T is urging agencies to acknowledge receipt of each application and inform the taxpayer in writing whether it has been approved.
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Marin Municipal Water District has several water bill discount programs listed here that are based on income, certain medical conditions, or having internal fire suppression sprinklers. Most people are unaware of MMWD’s generous income-based fee waiver program, which is open to every household that qualifies (not just seniors). Both meter-size-based charges on your water bill — totaling hundreds of dollars annually — are completely waived from the bills of qualifying families. Here are the income caps as of July 2023: $83,280 for a one-person household; $95,160 for 2; $107,040 for 3; $118,920 for 4; and increasing stepwise up to $157,000 for 8. Those caps will be raised and posted on MMWD’s website when the HUD data on which they are based is released in mid-May.
In response to customer complaints about its sizeable fixed fees tied to the diameter of the customer’s meter (incoming pipe), MMWD is also telling customers that they can save money by swapping out residential meters that are over 5/8″ in size. (Check your water bill for your meter size.) The charges for meter downsizing are listed in item 1.2 in the district’s rate/fee schedule. Make sure you ask what it will cost if you have to re-upsize, if, for example, you have to install interior fire suppression sprinklers. For more information, call MMWD at 415-945-1400 or email

All residential customers who have interior fire suppression sprinklers are eligible for lower meter-size-based charges if they apply for MMWD’s capital maintenance fee reduction program.

In addition, there are many rebate programs related to water efficiency product purchases.

More Cost-Saving Opportunities Below

A variety of discounts and exemptions are offered by other agencies that may be on your property tax bill or may be billing you directly. Some are only available to seniors. Some use a “very low income” standard, meaning not as many customers qualify as do under the “low-income” standard used by MWPA. The most sizeable of these miscellaneous discounts and exemptions are those offered by water and sanitation districts.

Ross Valley Sanitary District

offers a low-income sewer charge assistance program with generous income thresholds similar to those of MWPA. Many moderate-income home and condo owners may be surprised to learn they qualify for a 25% discount on the RVSD sewer charge fee that appears on the tax bill. Apply before the June 30 deadline!

Novato and Mill Valley Sanitary Districts

offer a low-income sewer charge assistance program for those who have enrolled in PG&E’s CARE Program (which has much lower income caps than those used by RVSD, MMWD, and MWPA). Qualifying single-family residences receive a 10-15% discount from Novato Sanitary on their sewer tax; City of Mill Valley’s sewer discount is 25%.

Other Sewer / Sanitation Districts.

There are many other sanitation districts in Marin. Check with your local agency for discounts. Also, several sanitary agencies offer financial assistance with sewer lateral expenses.

North Marin Water District

offers a low-income discount of $15 monthly for applicants who are enrolled in PGE’s Care Program.

Stinson Beach County Water District

has a low-income discount program. For more information and a copy of the form call 415-868-1333.

Mill Valley Municipal Services Tax

– Low-income seniors are exempt. For more information and a copy of the form, call 415-384-4800 or email

San Anselmo Municipal Services and library parcel tax

– There is an exemption for families who qualify for PG&E CARE Program. Please call 415-258-4678 to request an application.

Library taxes – Many libraries in Marin are part of the Marin County Free Library system, which offers a senior exemption that must be renewed annually by June 1. Some other libraries also offer library parcel tax exemptions.

There are several other exemptions and discounts not listed here.

Check the county exemption website to ensure you know about all of them. We are not responsible for any omissions or errors in this public service message.

You CAN lower your PG&E bill. Here’s how!

First, look into the several low-income discount programs PG&E offers. Second, learn about how the time-of-use plans impact you. PG&E automatically transitioned residential customers to the time-of-use plan back in 2021, which may have RAISED your bill unduly. You might achieve a lower bill if you change your habits: e.g., what time of day you use energy-intensive appliances. Or you may get a lower bill by changing your PG&E rate plan to the one that’s more cost-effective for your usage pattern. This is easy to do. Click here, then click the “compare rate plans now” button on the right side of the page to explore whether choosing a different rate plan will prevent a higher bill or lower what you’re already paying. Beware though, that your utility bill could change significantly in coming months owing to legislation that greenlighted the implementation of new fixed fees, which will be applied to the bills of everyone except those who are very low income.
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A tsunami of tax measures is on California’s horizon, with the leading edge breaking on our shores in November 2024. This could be an inflection point, with significantly higher taxes — particularly at the local and regional level — exacerbating unaffordability for millions of residents and businesses alike.

Across California, agencies are struggling to fund promised services while protecting their employees and our state government faces a California’s massive deficit.

Raising taxes is the go to solution. The rub: more voters are resisting higher taxes, unless they aren’t on the hook for paying them. Millionaire taxes remain popular. Apartment renters may be amenable to taxing property owners if they don’t make the connection to their own cost of living.

Enter stage left: ACA-1, a constitutional amendment on the November 2024 ballot.

ACA-1 is supported by the California League of Cities and opposed by California’s Chamber of Commerce, Association of Realtors, and leading business and individual taxpayers’ organizations. If passed, ACA-1 will lower the threshold to pass many new taxes from 2/3 to 55%, particularly if the tax measure states it will fund affordable housing or infrastructure (which could encompass a wide swath of tax proposals). If ACA-1 passes, it is instantaneously effective, lowering the threshold for tax measures that are on that same November ballot. This will spur a tidal wave of bond and other tax measures starting in November 2024 and, if ACA-1 passes, extending through 2026 and beyond until tax exhaustion peaks.

Per Dr. Gary Galles, economics professor at Pepperdine University: “ACA 1 would sharply lower Proposition 13’s two-thirds voter threshold to 55% for local special taxes to fund ‘infrastructure’ so vaguely defined that virtually anything could qualify.”

Bond measures typically last 30 years. So the impact of ACA-1 cannot be unwound for a generation even if it is repealed or modified in the next decade.

CO$T is currently tracking a number of local and regional measures that could be on the November ballot and will keep you posted. The first big one moving forward is a Bay Area regional tax measure that would greenlight the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA) issuing up to $20 billion in bonds (which could cost taxpayers twice that with interest). This is projected to add $120 in property taxes per $1 million assessed valuation over the bond’s 30-year life.

As detailed in our letter to Marin County Supervisors, this is a very expensive, inefficient way of funding a small amount of affordable housing and obligating local governments (= taxpayers) to provide in perpetuity a host of consequent, unfunded services and subsidies.

The BAHFA bond could be on the same ballot as a second try at passing a $1 billion Tam Union High School District tax very similar to Measure A that voters rebuffed in the March election. Tam Union’s board will likely hire this month consultants and pollsters to assess how to get more Yes votes in a retry.

Several Marin cities are also looking to place bond and sales tax measures before voters in November. If taxpayers are to avoid being drowned by the tsunami – or if they are concerned about the fates of their children, friends and neighbors — they are going to have to start being selective. COST will also be selective, using our existing Sensible Tax Criteria and developing new Bond Guidelines and Guardrails to screen tax proposals.

While the outlook is concerning, it is possible that voters will reject ACA-1. It is disturbing that Marin County supervisors aren’t waiting for the November vote.

They will consider on April 2 (agenda item 6) approving money to create an affordable housing two year Fixed Term Principal Planner position at a cost of $450,000. This person would oversee and direct Marin’s portion of the not-yet-approved BAHFA bond program.

This reminds us of Tam Union High School District, which many months before the ill-fated vote on Measure A, also hired a bond project manager as well as spending over $7 million on developing plans for large new building complexes at Redwood and Tam high schools. It’s fiscally irresponsible to spend our tax dollars gambling on the outcome of a future election.

Email your Supervisor NOW. Join us in urging Marin Supervisors to (1)Vote no on hiring an affordable housing Principle Planner at least until voters approve the BAHFA measure and (2)seriously consider opting out of the regional tax measure as not in the best interests of Marin County residents.

If you are concerned about the tax tsunami, please consider a donation to COST today to help fund our advocacy on behalf of Marin taxpayer-voters.

Click here to read COST’s letter to Marin County’s Board of Supervisors to learn more about our objections to the BAHFA bond measure and why Marin should reject this proposal as unduly costly, financially inefficient, and fiscally irresponsible.


Many CA Heirs are Now Forced
to Sell the Family Home!
We Need YOUR Signature to
Amend Prop 19!
CO$T is helping with a statewide effort to fix 2020’s Proposition 19, which voters narrowly approved. People were largely unaware that voting YES would result in the reassessment of inherited homes and farms. Many children and grandchildren are now forced to sell their family home because they can’t afford the much higher property tax, This has upended the financial future and family integrity of many, many Californians.

Together we can fix this problem. We’re gathering signatures on an official petition to qualify an initiative measure for the November 2024 statewide ballot. The measure would repeal provisions that hike the property tax of inherited homes and farms while leaving the rest of Prop 19 intact.
Download, print, sign and submit the official petition NOW! Print as many as you can use. Sign one yourself and then collect as many signatures as you can from your family, friends and neighbors who are CA registered voters.

YOUR HELP IS KEY to getting enough signatures to qualify this initiative to appear on the November 2024 ballot.

Message us if you are willing to help with signature gathering. We can provide printed materials; direct interested signers to your doorstep; provide locales at which to solicit signatures, and team you up with signature gathering partners. It will take a collective effort to succeed! Let’s make sure Marin contributes more than its share of signatures!

Follow petition instructions precisely to ensure signatures count.
Act now! The statewide effort to fix prop 19 requires more than a million signatures. We are asking everyone to send in the signed petitions as soon as possible but no later than Tuesday, January 16. The return address is in the pdf with the petition, and a list of drop-off locations is underway. Message us if you want to drop off petitions for us to mail for you.
Volunteer to be a Petition Hub! Email the petition to your friends.

Help CO$T Thrive Today. Donate here


CO$T aims to:

1. Keep local taxes and fees on housing and basic services affordable.
2. Encourage officials to prioritize spending on the uses most important to taxpayers.
3. Improve transparency and fiscal responsibility at local agencies and districts.
4. Educate taxpayers about the cost and use of their local taxes and fees.
5. Urge that tax measures be fair, equitable, and approved by those who will be paying.

CO$T’s activities include:

1. Host non-partisan public meetings about local tax policies and the options.
2. Inform voters about proposed new and renewed taxes and fees.
3. Research whether new taxes and fees are necessary and how they will be used.
4. Investigate cost-effective alternatives to higher taxes and fees.
5. Guide local officials on which tax and spending proposals voters would favor.
6. Serve as Taxpayer Representative on district Citizen Oversight Committees.

CO$T is an all-volunteer organization led by our Board of Directors. Our Advisory Group gives periodic guidance and assistance on projects. We email alerts on issues and developments to followers who sign up to receive our communications.