CHAPTER 163

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 81, TITLE 9, DELAWARE CODE, ENTITLED LIMITATIONS UPON TAXING POWER BY ADDING THERETO A NEW SUBCHAPTER CONCERNING EXEMPTIONS FROM TAXATION ON REAL PROPERTY OF CITIZENS AND RESIDENTS OF THIS STATE OF THE AGE OF 65 OR MORE YEARS HAVING AN INCOME NOT IN EXCESS OF $3,000 PER YEAR.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

Section 1. Chapter 81, Title 9, Delaware Code, is amended by adding thereto a new Subchapter II to read as follows:

SUBCHAPTER II. Citizens over 65 years of age

§ 8131. Definitions

As used in this Title,

"Income" means all income from whatever source derived including but not limited to, realized capital gains and, in their entirety, pension, annuity, retirement and social security benefits. For any tax year for which an exemption is claimed, "income" shall be determined to be equal in amount to the income received during the calendar year or the taxpayer's fiscal year ended immediately preceding October 1, of the pre-tax year, but no taxpayer shall use a fiscal year basis unless he so elects to do and files his Federal income tax return on such

basis.

"Pretax year" means the calendar year immediately preceding the "tax year".

"Resident" means one legally domiciled within the State of Delaware for a period of 3 years immediately preceding October, of the pretax year. Mere seasonal or temporary residence within the State, of whatever duration, shall not constitute domicile within the State for the purposes of this Act. Absence from this State for a period of 12 months shall be

prima facie evidence of abandonment of domicile in this State. The burden of establishing legal domicile within the State shall be upon the claimant.

"Tax year" means the calendar year in which the general property is due and payable.

"Family" means husband and wife ; a man and woman cohabiting as husband and wife in a home in which there are also children in esse or en ventresamere, of either or both; parent and child ; guardian and ward and also any group or persons residing together in one home under one head who are related by blood or marriage.

§ 8132. Qualifications and Amount of Exemption

Every person, a citizen and resident of this State of the age of 65 or more years, having an income not in excess of $3,000 per year and residing in a dwelling house owned by him which is a constituent part of his real property, shall be entitled, on proper claim being made therefor, to exemption from taxation on such real property to an assessed valuation not exceeding $5,000 in the aggregate, except (1) that no such exemption shall be in addition to any other exemption to which said person may be entitled, and (2) that no such exemption shall be permitted where any member of said person's family lives in said dwelling house and has an income in excess of $3,000.

§ 8133. Application

No exemption from taxation on the valuation of real property as provided herein, shall be allowed except upon written application therefor, which application shall be on a form prescribed by the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, and provided for the use of claimants hereunder by the governing body of the taxing district in which such claim is to be filed. Each assessor may at any time inquire into the right of a claimant to the continuance of an exemption hereunder and for that purpose he may require the filing of a new application or the submission of such proof as he shall deem necessary to determine the right of the claimant to continuance of such exemption. Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to apply to property taxes levied within and by a municipality.

§ 8134. Time for filing

An application for exemption hereunder shall be filed with the assessor of the taxing district on or before November 1, of the pretax year. If an application is approved by the assessor, he shall allow an exemption from taxation against the assessed valuation of the real property assessed to the claimant in the amount of the claim approved by him.

§ 8135. Contents of Application

Every fact essential to support a claim for exemption hereunder shall exist on October 1, of the pretax year. Every application by a claimant therefor shall establish that he was, on October 1, of the pretax year, (a) a citizen and resident of this State for the period required, (b) of the age of 65 or more years, (c) the owner of a dwelling house which is a constituent part of the real property for which the exemption is claimed, (d) residing in said dwelling house. Such application shall also establish that his income for the yearly period as provided by this act did not exceed $3,000, and that no member of said person's family lives in said dwelling house and has an income in excess of $3,000.

§ 8136. Continuance of exemption

A claim having been filed with and allowed by the assessor shall continue in force from year to year thereafter without the necessity for further claim so long as the claimant shall be entitled to exemption hereunder, but the claimant shall be required yearly to establish his income and the assessor may at any time require the filing of a new application or such proof as he shall deem necessary to establish the right of the claimant to continuance of the exemption. It shall be the duty of every claimant to inform the assessor of any change in his status or property which may affect his right to continuance of the exemption.

§ 8137. Tenants in common or joint tenants

(a) Where title to property on which an exemption is claimed is held by claimant and another or others, either as tenants in common or as joint tenants, claimant shall not be allowed an exemption against his interest in said property in excess of the assessed valuation of his proportionate share in said property, which proportionate share, for the purposes of this act, shall be deemed to be equal to that of each of the other tenants, unless it is shown that the interests in question are not equal, in which event claimant's proportionate share shall be as shown.

(b) Nothing herein shall preclude more than 1 tenant, whether title be held in common or joint tenancy, from claiming exemption against the property so held, but no more than the equivalent of 1 full exemption in regard to such property shall be allowed in any year, and in any case in which the claimants cannot agree as to the apportionment thereof, the exemption shall be apportioned between or among them in proportion to their interest. Property held by husband and wife, as tenants by the entirety, shall be deemed wholly owned by each tenant, but not more than 1 exemption in regard to such property shall be allowed in any year.

(c) Right to claim exemption hereunder shall extend to property the title to which is held by a partnership to the extent of the claimant's interest as a partner therein, and by a guardian, trustee, committee, conservator or other fiduciary for any person who would otherwise be entitled to claim exemption hereunder, but not to property the title to which is held by a corporation.

§ 8138. Rules and Regulations

The Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer may promulgate such rules and regulations and prescribe such forms as he shall deem necessary to implement this act. He may, in his discretion, eliminate the necessity for sworn application, in which event all declarations by the claimant shall be considered as if made under oath and the claimants, as to false declarations, shall be subject to the penalties as provided by law for perjury.

§ 8139. Oaths

Each assessor and collector and his duly designated assistants are hereby authorized to take and administer the oath, where required, on any claim for exemption hereunder and no charge shall be made for the taking of any affidavit or the preparation of any form required by this act.

§ 8140. Appeals

An aggrieved taxpayer may appeal from the disposition of an exemption claim under this act in the same manner as is provided for appeals from assessments generally.

Section 2. The first tax year upon which this act shall apply shall be the calendar year 1966.

Approved June 17, 1965.