City Council adjusts real estate tax relief program | Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — More Winchester residents will be able to take advantage of real estate tax exemptions this year.

On Tuesday night, City Council voted unanimously to update Winchester’s standards for granting real estate tax exemptions to the elderly and people with permanent disabilities. The vote came after a public hearing in which no one spoke.

The new standards, which Winchester Commissioner of the Revenue Ann Burkholder said become effective immediately, raise the median annual household income qualification from $40,000 to $58,818.

Burkholder said after the meeting that she’s “pretty excited” about the new standards, as they will give the city more flexibility and better meet the needs of residents.

The change came about because Winchester had not adjusted its criteria for real estate tax relief to elderly and disabled residents since 2013, despite home values and household incomes nearly doubling over the past decade.

Previously, a Winchester homeowner who is at least 65 years old or permanently and totally disabled qualified for real estate tax relief if their total annual household income was $40,000 or less. The relief program’s maximum benefit amount was $1,500 annually despite Winchester’s average residential real estate tax bill being $2,365.

Instead of setting a fixed maximum annual income, the relief package is now based on Winchester’s median household income as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau. As a result, anyone earning 50% or less of the city’s median household income is exempt from paying real estate taxes. Households that make 51% to 60% will receive a 75% discount, those that earn 61% to 70% will receive a 50% discount, and those that earn 71% to 100% will receive a 25% discount.

The maximum discount offered is $2,365, equal to the city’s average real estate tax bill in 2021. Any tax due beyond that amount still must be paid by the homeowner.

The city is using Census Bureau’s 2019 median household income for Winchester as the basis for the revised relief package. That amount is $58,818, nearly $18,000 less than the median household income of $76,583 listed in the 2021 State of the Commonwealth Report. Since the census is only updated once every 10 years, the 2019 figure would remain in place for a decade unless the council votes to change it.

To contact the Commissioner of the Revenue, visit or call 540-667-1815.

Attending the City Council meeting at Rouss City Hall were Mayor and Council President David Smith, Vice Mayor John Hill, Vice President Kim Herbstritt and council members Corey Sullivan, Evan Clark, Phil Milstead, Les Veach, Richard Bell and Madelyn Rodriguez.

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