Low-Income Property Valuation Freeze Cap Increases

During the recently completed State of New Mexico legislative session, HB429, sponsored by Representative Bill R. Rehm (Bernalillo, District 31) was signed into law, increasing the income limit for those who qualify for a limitation on property tax valuation for their primary home.

“Some of our seniors and disabled are struggling to pay their property taxes due to property value or mill levy increases,” said Sandoval County Treasurer Laura M. Montoya. “It is statistically proven that seniors over 65 OR disabled are populations that do not have increased annual income. This $3,000 increase in the income cap insures that our seniors and disabled are not at risk of losing their homes due to market increases.”

The income cap to qualify for the limitation on property tax valuation, also called the “Property Valuation Freeze” hadn’t been changed since 1999. This new update changes the income cap from $32,000 to $35,000, and will go into effect for Tax Year 2020. In order to qualify, the value freeze is for a single-family dwelling occupied by a person who is sixty-five years of age or older or disabled, and whose modified gross income for the prior taxable year did not exceed $35,000. The taxpayer must fill out an application and submit it to the Sandoval County Assessor’s Office. Applications for tax year 2020 with the higher income cap of $35,000, will be available after January 1, 2020. Residents can apply now for the property tax valuation freeze for tax year 2019, but the income cap is still $32,000 through the end of 2019. The Assessor’s office reviews documents and determines approval.

“We will accept applications for the property valuation freeze throughout the year. It’s a simple one page application,” said Sandoval County Assessor Linda P. Gallegos. “My staff is available to assist residents with the application and we have Spanish speakers on hand should anyone need translation services.”

Homeowners of single-family dwellings, who wish to qualify, need to provide a completed application, copies of their income tax return or W-2 or 1099 forms, along with an official ID. To qualify, homeowners need to be at least 65 years of age or be disabled, make $35,000 or less per year, occupy the property for which the application is being submitted, and provide official identification of the property (such as the physical address, legal description of UPC). Those who qualify must come in annually for three years to submit a property valuation freeze application. After the three year period, the application will auto-renew for the remainder of their ownership of the property. If for any reason, the qualified taxpayer’s income increases, they are required to inform the Assessor’s office immediately.

It is anticipated that this change to the income cap for the property valuation freeze will impact nearly 20,000 residents of New Mexico. In Sandoval County, there are currently 967 homeowners who take advantage of this program.

“We anticipate minimal impact to the tax base, but a huge impact to lower income senior and disabled residents who might otherwise lose their family home without a valuation freeze on their property taxes,” said Treasurer Montoya.

State Representative Bill R. Rehm, District 31, introduced HB 429 and worked with both the Treasurer’s and Assessor’s Affiliates as well as New Mexico Property Tax Division to do the data analysis to determine what would be impactful to seniors and disabled residents without a detriment to the tax base and pushed this bill to get passed.

“I’d like to thank Senate Leader Peter Wirth and Chairman Jim Trujillo and his House Tax and Revenue Committee for their bipartisan leadership to get this bill through the process. I’d also like to thank the Governor for signing it,” said Representative Rehm. “This was good bipartisan legislation with teamwork from county and state leaders that will positively impact our most vulnerable taxpayers.”

Click Here to learn more about the valuation freeze or other property tax exemptions. Once on the FAQ page, scroll down to the Exemption section where you can learn about four different programs available to those who qualify.

Click Here to learn more about the Sandoval County Treasurer’s Office.