Property taxes tend to rise over time, even when home values decline. In the year 2000, U.S. homeowners paid an estimated $247 billion in property taxes. By 2010, that figure had climbed to $476 billion even though the housing market hadn't yet recovered from its recent implosion.
If your property taxes have reached a point where you can no longer keep up with them, you can pursue a couple of options for relief. First, you can appeal your property taxes, which makes sense if you feel your home has been assessed at a higher value than what it's actually worth. Another avenue you might pursue is a property tax freeze.
A property tax freeze locks the amount of tax you're paying in place so you don't have to worry about an increase. Six states offer the ability to freeze your property taxes, so if you live where such a program exists, it pays to see if you're eligible for it.
Keep in mind that property tax freezes generally apply to older homeowners only -- those more likely to struggle to keep up with increases. Many seniors move to a fixed income when they retire, at which point property tax hikes become more burdensome. That's why these programs aren’t designed for younger homeowners.
That said, in some states -- namely, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island -- you may be eligible to freeze your property taxes if you’re permanently disabled.
Eligibility for a property tax freeze
If you live in Connecticut, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, or Texas, you may be eligible to freeze your property taxes. Here's what the requirements look like: