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Tax Help for California Seniors

Many California seniors know about discounts at restaurants and the movies, but some aren't familiar with the tax benefits available to them. As your elected Board Member and taxpayer advocate, I want to help you understand the various benefits and services available to you.

This webpage helps seniors navigate California's tax laws and regulations. You will find useful information and links to resources specific to California seniors.

If you have questions or need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Help with Property Taxes

Overtaxed? Seek Parcel Tax Exemptions for Your Property

If you pay a parcel tax or special assessment, you may be eligible for an exemption. Parcel taxes are locally imposed special taxes approved by voters, which must be paid by a real estate owner. Most of your home's property tax bill is based upon its value, but parcel taxes are based on the characteristics of the parcel (e.g. the size of the home or lot).

To find out if you qualify for an exemption, call the local district or agency that imposed the parcel tax or special assessment listed on your annual property tax bill.

Note: An unofficial county-by-county list of some parcel taxes and exemptions is available on the California Tax Foundation website.

Moving Soon? Transfer Your Property's Taxable Value

If you are 55 years or older, selling your home, and buying another of equal or lesser value, you may be eligible to transfer the taxable value on the home you sell to your new home, avoiding higher property taxes. See Exclusions from Reappraisal for details.

If you sell or transfer property to your child or grandchild, he or she may be able to pay the property taxes currently being paid on the property, avoiding higher property taxes. Visit this webpage for more information.

Contact your local County Assessor to find out if you are eligible to transfer your property's taxable value.

Disabled Veteran? You May Qualify for a Property Tax Exemption

Depending upon income, 100% disabled veterans and their unmarried surviving spouses may qualify for a property tax exemption of $124,932 to $187,399 on their principal residence.

To learn more, visit our disabled veterans' exemption webpage.

To apply for the Disabled Veterans' Exemption, contact your County Assessor.

Need a Break? Property Tax Deferrals Coming Soon

California's Property Tax Postponement Program will allow senior citizens and disabled persons with an annual household income of $35,500 or less to apply to defer payment of property taxes on their principal residence. Under this program, applications may be filed with the State Controller beginning September 1, 2016. Information will be posted to the State Controller's website as it becomes available.

Help with Income and Sales Tax

senior couple using laptop

Need Tax Help? Get Free Income Tax Assistance

The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free income tax help for all taxpayers 60 years of age and older. The TCE program specializes in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues.

To locate the nearest TCE site, use the Internal Revenue Service's site locator tool or call 1-800-906-9887. The AARP Foundation's Tax Aide program also offers many TCE services. Their Tax Aide sites can be located online or by calling 1-888-227-7669.

Visit the IRS website for more information about TCE.

Filing Taxes? You May Qualify for Income Tax Credits

If you or your spouse are 65 years or older you may qualify for the Senior Income Tax Exemption Credit on your California income tax return. This year, seniors saved between $106 (single) and $212 (married) when filing their 2013 California income tax returns.

You may also qualify for the Senior Head of Household Credit equal to 2 percent of your California taxable income, up to $1,272, if you:

  • Are 65 or older as of January 1, 2014, and
  • Earned less than $67,520 in 2013, and
  • Filed as head of household in either of the previous two years.

If you have questions about these credits, contact the Franchise Tax Board.

Buying Meds? Your Prescriptions are Tax Free

If you purchase prescription medications or prescribed medical equipment like wheelchairs, eyeglasses, crutches, canes, and walkers, your purchases may not be subject to tax. Note: this tax exemption is for all Californians, not just seniors.

If you have been wrongly charged an amount as sales tax on your purchases, contact my office so we can help.

Hungry? Some Meals May be Tax Free

Meals sold to low-income seniors by a nonprofit organization or governmental agency may be exempt from taxes. For more information, see our publication for Nonprofit Organizations.

Additionally, if you are 62 or older, live in a condominium, and own equal shares in a common kitchen facility, the meals you purchase are not subject to tax provided that the meals are served to you on a regular basis.

Contact my office if you have questions about this exemption. For food and nutrition assistance, visit the Meals on Wheels Association of America or Eldercare.gov.

Related Resources

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Questions?

If you have questions or need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.