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Pasco low-income seniors will get new homestead tax break

Move draws praise from local agency that serves low-income seniors in Pasco.
 
The West Pasco Government Center houses the County Commission chambers.
The West Pasco Government Center houses the County Commission chambers. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Dec. 7, 2023|Updated Dec. 7, 2023

Pasco residents 65 and above who meet low-income requirements will get a break on future property taxes under an ordinance approved by the County Commission this week.

The Pasco County Commission unanimously agreed to an additional $50,000 expansion in the homestead exemption for those senior homeowners who have a total household income of less than $35,167, beginning in the 2025 tax year.

The move brought quick praise from Ann Marie Winter, executive director of the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas Inc., the agency that oversees funding and service delivery for various programs that assist senior citizens. She told commissioners that because of that work, the agency “knows only too well the struggle seniors are facing right now, right here in Pasco County, with the high cost of living.”

Thirty-one percent of Pasco’s population is 60 or older, she said, and of those, 22,000 are homeowners who are “cost burdened.” That means they spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs and earn an income below 50% of the area’s median income level.

Passing the new exemption, Winter said, will ensure that Pasco County remains a place “where families want to move to and continue living in throughout their golden years.”

Winter added that the Area Agency on Aging was “proud to partner with Pasco County to help seniors remain independent and safe in their own homes.”

Expanding the senior homestead exemption was an issue raised by commissioners in September during their annual budget discussions. During their public hearings, they heard repeated concerns by Pasco citizens struggling with rising property values and taxes while other costs of living were also on the rise.

Commissioners agreed to reduce the amount of tax increase related to fire service needs in the last hearing but also agreed to look at the additional homestead exemption for seniors in need.

The exemption means the county would lower the estimated value of a primary residence by that amount for the purpose of calculating its tax bill. Hillsborough and Pinellas counties have implemented the same program, though Pinellas caps the exemption at $20,000, County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder told commissioners at the time.