Death, taxes and the assessment cap

Once again I was poking around seeing what my assessed value was, not that it matters. Those of us who bought our homes before houses were too expensive, have these lovely golden handcuffs in the combo dish of the Assessment Cap Credit, and the Homestead Deduction. That means that people who have been in their homes a long time (and bothered to get the homestead deduction) pay a couple or several hundred dollars a year in property taxes, as opposed to newer folks who pay a thousand to several thousands a year. I say the combo of those tax credits are golden handcuffs because the low tax, is a great incentive to not move. It is a good program, in that it encourages neighborhood stability. It allows long term owners to stay in their homes despite the rise in home prices around them. Provided they bothered to get the homestead deduction in the first place. There are neighbors who I know are living in their homes but don’t have the homestead deduction and are paying the full price in taxes and aren’t protected by the 10% cap.
I was poking around on the Tax Office’s real estate assessment database because a few months back I got a visit (wasn’t home so I called him) from the tax assessor who wanted to know if I made changes. I did, but it seems none of them really matter tax wise. Curiously, being what it is I checked out the assessments of other properties in the area. What owners are taxed at varies, depending on if they are residents or landlords, when they bought, if they are senior citizens or low income, etc. But then I’d see an exceptionally low taxable assessment value in the 10K-20K range, for a small number of owners who bought in the aughts. Not complaining, just observing.
What I will complain about are the dead people paying low property taxes. Mainly because said dead persons are getting the Senior Citizen Homestead Deduction, which means they are paying super low taxes, which is fine if you’re old and typically on a fixed income. However, grammy dies and the kids continue to pay the low tax. This is fine for the first couple of years after a death because of probate and clearing up the estate, which I understand is no easy task. However after say 3 years, the new owners (widow/widower or kids) need to be listed and taxed appropriately. Flipping around on the database there are still a few dead people in the hood paying taxes, according to the Social Security Death Index, which the Office of Tax and Revenue doesn’t seem to bother to check.

2 thoughts on “Death, taxes and the assessment cap”

  1. Sorry this is anonymous. But it sucks when you peruse the listings and find that the renters on your block have landlords who get the homestead deduction…

  2. Report them to the Office of Tax and Revenue's Tax Fraud Hotline:

    Phone: (800) 380-3495
    Mail: Government of the District of Columbia
    Office of Tax and Revenue
    Attn: Tax Fraud Hotline
    941 North Capitol Street, NE, Suite 840
    Washington, DC 20002

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