Tax and Fee Exemptions for Seniors

Tax and Fee Exemptions & Discounts for Seniors

Low & Moderate Income

People w Disabilities & Medical Conditions

MMWD & PGE Customers Who are Overpaying

APPLY NOW!  Filing Deadlines Soon!

Beware: You May Need to Reapply Each Year

Time is short to submit applications for exemptions and discounts on an array of Marin add-on property taxes and agency fees.  Individuals who may qualify include those who are seniors, disabled, low-to-moderate income, or have special circumstances (e.g., medical conditions that require extra water).  Because so many tax- and rate- payers miss out on a cost-saving opportunity for which they qualify, the Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers provides this updated informational bulletin to Marin taxpayer-voters each spring.  We tell you below how to find out which of the taxes and fees you pay offer exemptions and discounts; how to determine if you qualify; how and when to apply; and whether you need to reapply annually to maintain your savings.

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HOW TO FIND OUT WHICH TAXES OFFER EXCEMPTIONS AND DISCOUNTS

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., sewer and 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, and telephone numbers for, 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 hot-link to the application form.

BIG POTENTIAL SAVINGS ON SCHOOL TAXES: Many school districts offer parcel tax exemptions for seniors 65 and older, and often 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 typically the largest exemptions and discounts available.  Some school districts have application deadlines in early May so you may need to act quickly.  Income- and disability-based discounts require annual filing.  School parcel tax exemptions for seniors need only be applied for once, though in some instances the school district may require a new application for a renewed or supplemental tax measure.  Read your tax bill (or tax exemption page) carefully.  You may be 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.

Mark your calendar!
Reapply annually for any expiring exemptions!

There is also a low-income senior exemption (65+) exemption for the Marin Wildfire Preparedness Authority parcel tax.  YOU MUST REAPPLY EVERY YEAR, with your application postmarked by June 30, 2022.  Refiling is imperative owing to changes in residents’ income and the income limits for applicants.  Homeowners can read all about how to apply here.  Don’t assume you are ineligible!  Many middle income households qualify.  The income limit for the current year is $102,450 for a 1-person household; $117,100 for two people; $131,750 for three; $146,350 for four; and $158,100 for five.  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 a 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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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 so many customers qualify as under the “low-income” one used by MWPA. The most sizeable non-tax-bill discounts are those offered by water and sanitation districts:
  • Ross Valley Sanitary District offers a low-income sewer charge assistance program with income thresholds similar to what MWPA’s.  Many moderate income home and condo owners may be surprised to lean they qualify for a 25% discount on the sewer charge fee that appears on the tax bill.   Apply before the June 30 deadline!

  • Other Sanitation Districts. There are twelve other sanitation districts in Marin. Check with your local agency for discounts.

  •  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.  In addition there are many rebate programs related to water efficiency product purchases.   Note also that in the wake of the outcry against its huge 2019 meter-charge fee increases, MMWD is encouraging meter downsizing.  You may save money by swapping out  residential meters that are over 5/8″ in size, but there is a one-time charge.  Having a smaller diameter meter (incoming pipe) reduces MMWD’s fixed charges that are especially onerous for larger meters. (Big fixed fees tied to meter size are the subject of a legal complaint filed by CO$T on behalf of ratepayers.)  The charges for meter downsizing are listed in item 1.2 in the district’s rate/fee schedule.  Your meter size is shown on your water bill, under Account Summary, e.g., “CAPITAL MAINT. FEE FOR 1″ METER.”  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 CustomerService@MarinWater.org

  • North Marin Water District has a bimonthly low-income discount available.

  • Stinson Beach County Water District has a low-income discount program.  For more information and a copy of the form call 415-868-1333.

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.  Last year, PG&E  automatically transitioned residential customers to time of use plan.  This 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 patter.  This is easy to do.  Click here — and then click the “make your choice” gold 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.

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CO$T is a non-profit, non-partisan organization
representing the interests of Marin taxpayers.

Disclaimer:  CO$T provides information about tax and fee exemptions and discounts as a public service to our readers.  You must contact the county and/or agencies via website, email or phone for the most up to date and accurate information.  We are not responsible for any errors or omissions.

Our mailing address is:

Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers    P.O. Box 253   Kentfield, CA 94914

Tax and Fee Exemptions for Seniors
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