Senior Citizens Law Project
New Hampshire Legal Assistance
Homeowners in NH now pay two kinds of property taxes: local (town/city, county, and local education) and state (the state education property tax). This pamphlet explains local and state property tax relief options available to help senior citizens, persons with low income, veterans and their spouses, and persons with disabilities. Certain forms of local property tax relief are available in all cities and towns, while other tax relief options must first be adopted by the town/city. State education property tax relief is now available statewide. Please read further in this pamphlet to see which kinds of property tax relief may be available to you.
I. LOCAL PROPERTY TAX RELIEF AVAILABLE IN ALL TOWNS/CITIES
A. property Tax Abatements (RSA 76:16)
property taxes may be reduced or waived by a town/city if you are able to show "good cause." "Good cause" for an abatement of property taxes includes:
To qualify for a "valuation" abatement you must first file a property inventory by April 15 in the year you request the tax reduction, if your town/city requires inventories. For all abatements you must then follow the steps explained in Section III of this pamphlet.
B. TAX DEFERRAL FOR THE ELDERLY AND DISABLED
Elderly and disabled persons who would suffer serious financial hardship or a possible loss of property because of the burden of their property taxes can apply for a property tax deferral. Under this program, the town can take a deferral lien on your home for the taxes you owe.
Once the town files a deferral lien on your property, it will charge five percent (5%) annual interest on taxes owed. Although a tax deferral is like a mortgage. You do not have to pay any of the deferred taxes or the interest while remaining in your home. The deferred taxes do not have to be paid until after your death unless you sell the property. If you are interested in a tax deferral, you should carefully explore the benefits and consequences.
If you believe you are eligible for this program, you should also apply for a tax abatement based on financial hardship, explained in
Section I, A above. Refer to Section III of this pamphlet for the proper steps to take to apply for a tax deferral and/or abatement.
C. PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS FOR THE ELDERLY
(RSA 72:39-a; 72:39-b)
All towns and cities must have a tax exemption for elderly taxpayers. However, the amount of an elderly tax exemption and the eligibility rules can vary, so you should contact your town/city to find out what it allows. The minimum exemption is $5,000 off the assessed value of your home. The minimum annual income limit must be $13,400 for a single person, or $20,400 for a married couple. Social Security income counts towards income limit. The minimum asset limit is $35,000, excluding the value of your home. The age requirement is 65 years of age or older, and you must have lived in New Hampshire for the last five years.
Refer to Section III of this pamphlet for the proper steps to take to apply for an elderly tax exemption.
Any honorably discharged veteran who served in the United States armed forces for at least 90 days in World Wars I or II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam Conflict, or any other war or armed conflict between Jul. 1958 to Dec. 22, 1961 or since May 8, 1975, earned an armed forces expeditionary medal or theater of operations service medal, or other qualifying medal, is eligible for a $50 reduction in residential property taxes.
This tax credit is also available to veterans whose service ended because of a service-connected disability, or persons who served on active duty in the armed forces of any allied government in any of the above listed wars or conflicts, and who, at the time, was a United States citizen or a resident of New Hampshire.
If you are a surviving spouse of a veteran who served 90 days in one of the wars or conflicts listed above or who was discharged due to a service-connected disability, you may also qualify for this $50 tax credit. The surviving spouse of a veteran of an allied government’s armed forces whose death was service-connected is also entitled to this credit.
A much larger credit of $700 is available for veterans who became totally disabled due to a service-related injury, or surviving spouses of any veterans who died in one of the wars or conflicts noted above.
A veteran with a total service-connected disability living in a specially adapted house bought with the Veterans Administration’s help is totally exempt from property taxation, as is his/her surviving spouse.
E. EXEMPTION FOR HOME IMPROVEMENTS TO HELP PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
A town may not require you to pay additional taxes for improvements you made to your home to help a disabled person who lives there. Rather, you should only be taxed at the assessed value of your home before the improvements.
II. EXPANDED LOCAL PROPERTY TAX RELIEF- AVAILABLE ONLY BY TOWN/CITY OPTION
If you are determined to be legally blind or if you are deaf or severely hearing-impaired, you may claim at least $15,000 as an exemption on your property taxes, but only if your town has adopted this exemption. Your town or city may have adopted higher exemption amounts in light of increased property values, so it is important to check with your town on the specifics of this exemption.
B. EXEMPTION FOR THE DISABLED (RSA 72:37-b)
If you have been declared to be disabled under the federal Social Security Act (eligible for Social Security or SSI disability benefits), you should check with your town to see if it has adopted this exemption. This exemption may be applied only to your primary residence, and each town sets its own income and asset limits for this exemption.
To apply for either of these exemptions for persons with disabilities, refer to Section III of this pamphlet for the proper steps to follow.
C. EXPANDED VETERANS TAX CREDIT
(RSA 72:28 II, 72:29-a II, 72:35 I-a,)
Towns have the option of increasing the veterans credit from $51 to $500 for all qualified veterans and surviving spouses. They also have
the option of increasing from $701 to $2000 the tax credit for these totally disabled (service connected) veterans and surviving spouses.
III. HOW TO APPLY FOR PROPERTY TAX RELIEF, OR APPEAL FROM A DENIAL OF YOUR REQUEST FOR RELIEF (RSA 72:33; 72:34; 72:34-a)
You must file a timely application:For tax year 2006, in most towns/cities, if you wish to apply for any of the tax relief mentioned above, you must file a permanent application with the assessors or selectmen of your town/city by March 1 following your final tax bill for the year. For example, you must file an application for tax relief concerning your 2005 taxes by March 1, 2006. The town/city has until July 1 following your final tax bill, to send you the written decision. For the elderly exemption only, check with your town because the application deadline may be August 1 of the year in which you are seeking the exemption. NOTE: Beginning in April 2005, the application deadline for exemptions and credits (but not abatements or deferrals) will be much earlier, April 15 of the year in which the taxpayer seeks the credit or exemption, six or more months before the final tax bills are sent out. The town/city will have until July 1st prior to the date of the tax bill (usually sent in Nov. or Dec.) to make decisions on credits and exemptions; the town/city will have until July 1 following the tax bill to decide on abatements and deferrals.
If you disagree with the town’s decision:You may file an appeal with either the Superior Court or the Board of Tax and Land Appeals by September 1 of the year following the tax bill, if you are unhappy with your town’s decision concerning your application.
If your final tax bill is late:If your final tax bill was sent later than December 31, all three deadlines for abatements and deferrals, –March 1, July 1, and September 1-are adjusted accordingly.
If you do not receive a written decision from the town:Even if you do not receive a written decision from your town by
July 1, the safe thing to do is file your appeal on time as if you are appealing an actual denial of your application (that is, by September 1).
If you miss that deadline, file your appeal as soon as possible, and state in your appeal that you never received a written decision from your town.
Never make a false statement in your application:It is very important that you make every effort to fill out your application accurately and truthfully. Your application can be denied if the selectmen or assessors believe you have willfully made any false statement in the application in order to gain tax relief.
IV. LOW AND MODERATE INCOME HOMEOWNERS’
PROPERTY TAX RELIEF (RSA 198:56 - 61)
Beginning with the 2003 tax-year (as of April 1, 2003) the State Education Property Tax Relief program was opened to all low and moderate-income homeowners subject to the state education property tax. The amount of relief will vary with the taxpayer’s income level, net assessed value of their home and equalized town tax rate. There is no relief for single taxpayers with incomes above $20,000 and families with incomes in excess of $40,000. You must have resided in your home on April 1 of the year for which the claim is made. Applications are due between May 1 and June 30, following the final property tax bill. You may obtain an application (form DP-8) from your town, from the NH Department of Revenue’s website atwww.revenue.nh.gov , by calling the forms line at 271-2192, or many NH libraries. You must submit your application to the NH Dep. of Revenue Administration, P.O. Box 299, Concord, NH 03302-0299. You must also submit a copy of pages one and two of your Federal Income Tax Return (if you were required to file), and a copy of your FINAL 2005 property tax bill.
If your application is rejected you will be notified in writing within 90 days of submitting the claim. You have 30 days to appeal the denial to the Board of Tax and Land Appeals.
The property tax relief laws are subject to change. Contact your town assessor’s office or New Hampshire Legal Assistance for updated information.
If you are age 60 or over and need assistance with a legal matter, you should call:
Senior Citizens Law Project Advice Line
1-888-353-9944 (toll free in NH)
The Senior Citizens Law Project is s special project of New Hampshire Legal Assistance and is funded in part by the New Hampshire Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services, under Title III of the Older Americans Act.
New Hampshire Legal Assistance provides free legal help to low-income and elderly persons who cannot afford a private attorney. NH Legal Assistance handles legal matters involving health care, public and private housing issues including property tax relief, food stamps, welfare, unemployment compensation, utility shut-off and nursing home problems.
NEW HAMPSHIRE LEGAL ASSISTANCE
Branch Law Offices
1361 Elm Street, Suite 307 58 Main Street
Manchester, NH 03101
668-2900 or 1-800-562-3174
271 Main Street Littleton, NH 03561
444-8000 or 1-800-548-1886
206 Moody Bldg., Opera House Sq.
Claremont, NH 03743
542-8795 or 1-800-562-3994
154 High Street-PO Box 778
Portsmouth, NH 03802
431-7411 or 1-800-334-3135
21 East Pearl Street Suite 2
Nashua, NH 03060
598-3800 or 1-800-517-0577
TTY (603)206-2299 or 1-800-634-8989
This pamphlet was published by NH Legal Assistance to give you some idea of your rights. Since the law is always changing through actions of the courts and legislature, you should consult a lawyer if you have a problem that requires legal attention.
"It Helps to Know the Law" pamphlet series includes:
The Senior Citizens Law Project Advice Line
Your Rights as a Tenant in a Manufactured Housing Park
Medicaid Income and Asset Rules for Nursing Home Residents
Fair Housing Project