Department of Social Services has new tax relief program

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County Durham homeowners in gentrifying neighborhoods can take advantage of a new tax relief program.

The Department of Social Services is launching the program for low-income homeowners after county reassessments increased the average tax value of homes by more than 25% in 2019.

“I’m my dad’s keeper now, and I just had to pay his property taxes and it’s a success!” Said William “Ben” Rose, Director of DSS. “And he has a fixed income.”

“It can be a huge blow to anyone, so we want to help people maintain the housing they have with all the rising costs,” he said.

County Durham Commissioners budgeted $ 750,000 for the program at the end of June, as well as $ 500,000 from the City of Durham.

This program will be separate from the long-time homeowner grant program of the city’s community development department.

While the city program sends checks to help residents pay taxes from previous years, the county program pays current tax debt.

The owner must be a resident of County Durham and can receive up to 50% of their tax bill or $ 750, whichever is less.

To be eligible, applicants must own and have lived in their home for 10 years and have a household income equal to or less than 30% of the region’s median income. In County Durham. For a family of four, 30% of the MAI is $ 27,250.

Orange County is also launching a tax relief program. It will serve households earning up to 80% of the region’s median income and could help about 14% of the county’s homeowners, or 1,378 households, officials said.

According to Rose, County Durham has decided to start with a lower percentage of AMI due to the newness of the program and to see how many applications are received.

Currently, the tax office estimates that up to 3,000 claims could be filed during the pilot phase of the program.

Social Services will approve the claims once homeowners submit their tax bill, proof of identity and proof of income.

County Durham tax administrator Dwane Brinson said residents would not be eligible for the county’s new program if their household was currently receiving a grant from the department’s program for commercial builders or the city. tax deferral program.

The Tax Department also offers a Property Tax Assistance Assessment Tool that residents can use to quickly see which programs they qualify for.

“Our goal is to stabilize housing for vulnerable citizens because our past programs have focused on tenants, so this is our new twist to help them,” Rose said.

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This story was originally published October 12, 2021 2:14 pm.

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