Writing a Hardship Letter to Defer Property Taxes (with Example)
Use this sample hardship letter to defer property taxes as a template for your formal notification.
Last updated on January 18th, 2019
Sending a well-written hardship letter to a bank or government agency is one way for an individual or family that is undergoing financial strain because of unusual circumstances to get relief. The hardship needs to be genuine, and the agency will often require proof of hardship, but if it can be proved, a homeowner can get a deferral of property tax for one year in most states.
This doesn’t mean the tax is forgiven. It is not, and the government will expect the tax to be paid the next year along with that year’s tax, unless another deferral is approved.
The reasons may vary according to state, but the main legitimate reasons to defer property taxes are:
- Activated military personnel
- Disability or illness
- Death in the family
- Divorce or separation
- Failed business
The first thing an individual should do is find out the rules and regulations for obtaining a property tax deferral in their state. The rules may vary from state to state. If the person is a senior citizen or disabled, there may be a special program for them in their state.
Most states offer programs for deferring, exempting and reducing property tax for certain people who qualify and for institutions. Some states offer a property tax reduction program.
A few of the programs that exist in certain states that allow deferrals or exemptions are:
- Homeowners property tax deferral program for people who have owned their home for five years or more
- Non-profit organizations may be exempt from federal taxes but not state taxes. This can change if the organization only uses the property for activities that are specifically exempted by the state legislature
- Widows or widowers of veterans with low annual income
- Senior citizens who are at least 60 years of age
- Disabled persons who are retired from gainful employment because of the disability
- Long-time occupants
- Widespread natural disaster that caused damage to the home
- Returning veterans
The applicant may need to include copies of his or her pertinent documents such as their last two paychecks or their federal income tax statement. If he or she has other outstanding debts, copies of these can be included. This may be a car payment, student loan payment or credit card bills.
If the deferment is granted, the applicant should start preparing for the next year. They will be expected to make both payments. If a homeowner is having difficulty paying his or her property taxes every year, it is recommended to make an escrow arrangement with their mortgage lender.
In this case, the homeowner pays a little extra each month and the mortgage lender pays the property tax every year. The homeowner doesn’t need to come up with a lump sum every year.
The hardship letter should be short and to the point. It is not necessary to exaggerate the hardship, but it should be clearly stated. The letter should be addressed to the county assessor. If the applicant doesn’t know the name, they can call the assessor’s office and ask.
Below is a example of a hardship letter to defer property taxes. It should be written in formal business-letter style and sent by certified mail with a return requested. This is to ensure that the county assessor has received the letter. All enclosures should be copies. No original documents should be sent unless they are specifically required by the assessor’s office.
Example Hardship Letter to Defer Property Taxes
Name of Applicant
Address of Applicant
City, State, Zip Code
Name of County Assessor
Name of Government Agency or Department
Address of County Assessor
City, State, Zip Code
RE: Request for deferment of property tax NUMBER
Dear Name of County Assessor:
This letter is a formal request for a deferral on my property taxes for the year YEAR. I have experienced extreme emotional sadness along with severe financial hardship because of the death of my wife. She died on DATE from breast cancer.
We were able to afford the mortgage on our house because she was a major income-earner. Fortunately, the insurance paid for her treatment for the past two years and she has a small life insurance policy. I haven’t decided what to do yet. I may declare bankruptcy if I can’t get some financial assistance to keep my house.
If I’m able to keep my house, I have every intention of paying my taxes, but it would help if I could defer them for one year. I have enclosed my wife’s medical records, death certificate and our joint federal income tax return.
I want to thank you in advance for taking the time to consider my situation. If you have any questions, I can be reached at Phone Number or at Email address, and look forward to hearing from you.
Signature of Applicant
Printed Name of Applicant
List of Enclosures: Death Certificate, Medical Reports, Federal Income Tax Statements
By Andre Bradley