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Suwanee to offer property tax assistance for low-income seniors

SUWANEE - Suwanee is offering some monetary relief for seniors this tax season.

City officials have made a homestead tax deferral program available to Suwanee homeowners age 62 and older and living on a fixed income of $20,000 or less annually.

Applications are available at www.suwanee.com or at City Hall and are due to the city's Tax Division by March 1, according to city Financial Services Director Amie Sakmar.

"Some of these people have had their homes here for a while and paid $50,000 or so in the '50s," explains Sakmar. "With property values going up, that house could easily be worth $300,000. And some of these seniors can't afford those taxes."

Last year the City Council adopted the program, which defers the property taxes and places a lien of the property for those who qualify.

Sakmar said the recently adopted deferral program is somewhat modeled after counties and cities that already have a similar program in place.

"Gwinnett County and the City of Decatur are some of the others who have a program like this," Sakmar said. "We looked at their programs and applied and modified it to fit Suwanee."

The city's deferral plan is considered a loan, with an interest rate applying to the amount to be paid back when the property is sold or transferred, Sakmar said. The lien can not exceed more than 85 percent of the property value, Sakmar added.

In the event that a resident decides the deferral is no longer needed or wanted, Sakmar said the option can be canceled and the money paid off at that time.

"If someone thinks they might qualify, we would like for them to give us a call," Sakmar said.

City officials plan to offer the deferral option again for future tax seasons.

"We're not going to do it for one year and stop doing it, but I think we may do some fine tuning," Sakmar said.

SideBar: If you file

· What: Suwanee Homestead Tax Deferral for limited income seniors

· When: Application deadline is March 1.

· Where: Forms are due to the Tax Division, 373 Highway 23, Suwanee