So, you bought a new home in Hawaii and you’re wondering if you can get a break on your property taxes. Fortunately for you, there are home exemptions, but they do have some rules.
The first home exemption law was enacted in 1896 by the Republic of Hawaii to provide some tax relief, encourage home ownership and the settlement of land. In 1896, the home exemption amount was $300. Currently, the basic home exemption is $48,000. This means that $48,000 is deducted from the assessed value of the property and the homeowner is taxed on the balance. For homeowners 60 years and older, additional home exemptions are permitted.
Who Qualifies for the Home Exemptions?
You are entitled to the home exemption if:
- You own and occupy the property as your principal home (“real property owned and occupied as the owner’s principal home”) means occupancy of a home in the county with the intent to reside in the county. Intent to reside in the county may be evidenced by, but not limited to, the following indicia: occupancy of a home in the city for more than 270 calendar days of a calendar year; registering to vote in the county; being stationed in the county under military orders of the United States; and filing of an income tax return as a resident of the State of Hawaii, with a reported address in the county;
- Your ownership is recorded at the Bureau of Conveyances, State Department of Land and Natural Resources, in Honolulu on or before December 31 preceding the tax years for which you claim the exemption. In the case of a lease, the document must indicate that the lessee has a lease for residential purposes for a term of five years or more and will pay all property taxes;
- You file a claim for home exemption (Form P-3) with the Real Property Assessment Division on or before December 31 preceding the tax years for which you claim the exemption.
Single Home Exemption
The law allows just one (1) home exemption; if a husband and wife live apart and own separate homes, each shall be entitled to one-half (1/2) of one exemption or to an exemption apportioned between their respective homes in proportion to the assessed value.
Multiple Home Exemptions for Senior Citizens
The multiple home exemption was established to lighten the tax burden for senior citizens who have relatively fixed retirement incomes. Senior citizens who are 60 years or older are eligible to apply.
The multiple home exemption is determined as follows:
- For those ages 60 to 69, the multiple home exemption is 2 times the basic home exemption. (2 x $48,000 = $96,000)
- For those ages 70 and older, the multiple home exemption is 2.5 times the basic exemption. (2.5 x $48,000 = $120,000)
To obtain the multiple home exemption, a taxpayer must be 60 years if age on or by December 31, preceding the tax year for which the exemption is claimed.
Additional Home Exemption Based On Income
The exemption claim must be filed each year by December 31. Real property that qualifies for a home exemption is entitled to an additional home exemption in the amount of $55,000 if the annual income is the owner-occupant(s) is less than $40,000.00. The income used for qualifying is the federal & the State of Hawaii adjusted gross income from the year preceding the date of application.
Totally Disabled Veterans
If you are a totally disabled veteran, due to injuries received while on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces, your home is exempted from all property taxes except the minimum tax. For this special exemption, veterans must file a claim on RP Form P-6 (Rev. 5/94) on or before December 31. The home exemption will remain in effect as long as the veteran claiming the exemption remains totally disabled or the widow or widower of the totally disabled veteran remains unmarried.
If you have Hansen’s Disease and are confined because of the illness, you are exempt from real property taxes on you real property, up to but not exceeding a taxable value of $50,000. This is in addition to your regular or multiple home exemption. If you are on a temporary released status, you can retain your exemption during that period. Claims for this special exemption must be filed on RP Form P-6 on or before December 31.
Blind, Deaf, or Totally Disabled
If you have impaired sight or hearing or are totally disabled, you may file a claim on RP Form P-6 for a $50,000 real property tax exemption on property you own. This claim is in addition to the regular or multiple home exemption. Your condition must be certified by an authorized physician, who is licensed to practice medicine in the State of Hawaii. “Certification” will be determined on the basis of a written report resulting from an examination performed by the authorized physician.
The following requirements must be satisfied to qualify for the exemption:
- Blind: An individual whose eyesight does not exceed 20/200 in the better eye with corrective lenses or whose visual sharpness is greater than 20/200. In this latter case, the field of vision must have a width of 20 degrees or less.
- Deaf: An individual whose average loss in the speech frequencies (500/2,000 hertz) in the better ear is 82 decibels, A.S.A, or worse.
A person who is totally and permanently disabled, either physically or mentally, which results in the person’s inability to engage in any substantial gainful business or occupation. For example, medically-certified heart attack or stroke victims, unable to engage in any substantial gainful business or occupation may qualify for this exemption.
Once filed and granted, these home and real property exemptions do not have to be refiled annually, as long as all requirements continue to be met.
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