State and county officials are still hammering out the details of the new law. According to Pima County Assessor Rick Lyons, there's confusion about the income standards. Single seniors 65 and older qualify if they earn less than four times the Social Security qualifying rate, which comes out to $25,440 in gross income, including Social Security benefits. But for couples, the picture is more muddled: The state Department of Revenue has issued a guideline interpreting the cut-off at $47,730, while other officials maintain it should be roughly $31,000.
There's additional confusion about the deadline for applying for the program. It's too late to do anything about 2001 property values, which were computed last year. To freeze your home's value before it increases in 2002, you need to apply with Lyons' office. But officials are still trying to determine if the deadline is March 1, which is the deadline for filing exemptions, or April 15, when income tax returns are filed. (In any case, if you manage to successfully apply for a freeze in your property value, it remains in place for three years before you need to apply again.)
"Things like that have to be resolved," says Lyons, whose office has had a few dozen inquiries about the new program. To request an application form, contact the County Assessor's exemption section at 740-8238.