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Salt Lake County spreading the word about underutilized tax relief programs

Published: Thursday, July 31 2014 7:37 p.m. MDT

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams speaks along with Rachel Casey, right, and County Treasurer Wayne Cushing, during a press conference about a tax relief program that is available to low-income or disabled residents at Rachel Casey's home at 652 East Bryan Avenue, Thursday, July 31, 2014.

Michelle Tessier, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Something had to give.

Once Rachel Casey's husband, John, entered a nursing home, she had trouble making ends meet. Then came the property tax bill.

"I was scared all the time. I'd go to my sisters and my bishop and I said, 'Can you help me? Can you help me?'"

Casey finally went down to the Salt Lake County Treasurer's Office to ask if there were some way she could pay her property taxes monthly. With the help of employees in the treasurer's office, Casey learned she qualified for property tax relief.

"It was like taking a million pounds off my head," she said.

Casey hosted a news conference in her driveway Thursday to help Salt Lake County spread the word about five tax relief programs that assist low-income seniors, veterans with service-related disabilities, survivors of veterans under certain circumstances, people who are legally blind, or others experiencing extreme financial hardship under certain income and asset thresholds.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said tax obligations are likely on the minds of most property owners because tax notices are showing up in the mail.

"This is harder on some than it is on others. The good news is, there is help out there," McAdams said.

Some 10,000 taxpayers receive partial relief to full forgiveness of their property tax bills under the five tax relief programs administered by the county and authorized under state law.

"The reason we're here today is there's a lot of folks out there who qualify for a property tax relief program, but they don't sign up. They either don't know they qualify or they don't know how to apply," McAdams said.

Salt Lake County Treasurer Wayne Cushing said he is reaching out to new community partners to help spread the word about the property tax relief programs, including Crossroads Urban Center and faith organizations.

The deadline to apply is Sept. 1.

"Please help your parents, grandparents and others to apply for and receive some of this critical property tax relief," McAdams said.

Information is also available online at www.slco.org/treasurer or by calling 385-468-8300.

Cushing said residents of Salt Lake County likely think of him as the elected official who bills, collects and distributes property taxes and manages the county's investments.

But one of the most rewarding aspects of his position, he said, "is when we are able to find those who deserve, qualify and get tax relief."

Starting in August, the treasurer's office will devote "a lot of resources to find those who qualify for tax relief and help them fill out their forms," Cushing said.

"We want to make sure those who qualify get it."

The treasurer's office plans to visit four county-run seniors center on Wednesday mornings in August to help seniors fill out forms. County residents can also apply at the treasurer's office in Room N1200 of the Salt Lake County Government Center, 2001 S. State.

Casey said she initially felt badly about asking the county for help, "because I'm very proud."

But her property tax abatement is nearly $1,500 a year, which is a great help to her because she lives on a fixed income, McAdams said.

"It's a great program. If you know anyone who needs it, have them go in and apply," she said.

* * *

The Salt Lake County Treasurer's Office staff will visit senior centers to help residents fill out applications for property tax relief programs on the following Wednesdays in August.

Aug. 6, 11:30 a.m. — Columbus Senior Center, 2531 S. 400 East, South Salt Lake

Aug. 13, 10:30 a.m. — Clark Cushing Heritage Center, 10 E. 6150 South, Murray

Aug. 20, 10 a.m. — Liberty Senior Center, 251 E. 700 South

Aug. 27, 10:30 a.m. — River's Bend Northwest Senior Center, 300 W. 1300 North

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com

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