CHAPTER 425

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 10, TITLE 22, DELAWARE CODE, RELATING TO EXEMPTIONS FROM MUNICIPAL TAXATION ON REAL PROPERTY OF RESIDENTS OF THE AGE OF 65 YEARS OR MORE.

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

Section 1. Chapter 10, Title 22, Delaware Code, is amended by striking said Chapter in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Chapter 10 to read as follows:

CHAPTER 10. EXEMPTIONS FROM MUNICIPAL TAXATION

ON REAL PROPERTY—PERSONS 65 YEARS OF AGE OR OVER

§ 1001. Definitions

As used in this Chapter —

"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.

"Income tax year" means the twelve month period for which the property owner files a federal personal income tax return, or if no such return is filed, the calendar year.

"Municipality" means any incorporated town or city of the State of Delaware.

"Resident" means one legally domiciled within the municipality for the period required by this Chapter. Mere seasonal or temporary residence within the municipality of whatever duration, shall not constitute domicile within the municipality for the purposes of this Chapter. Absence from the municipality for a period of 12 months shall be prima facie evidence of abandonment of domicile in the municipality. The burden of establishing legal domicile within the municipality shall be upon the property owner.

§ 1002. Exemption to be provided for by municipal law or ordinances; amount of exemption

Every person, a resident of a municipality of this State and the owner of real property located therein, who is sixty-five years of age or over shall be entitled, within the limitations of this chapter, to an exemption from municipal taxation on such real property to the extent of the first five thousand dollars of assessed valuation thereof, provided the governing body of such municipality adopts a local law or ordinance providing therefor.

§ 1003. Qualifications

No exemption shall be granted under the authority of this Chapter:

(1) If the income of the property owner exceeds the sum of $3000 for the income tax year immediately preceding the date of making an application for the exemption.

(2) If the income of the spouse of the property owner exceeds the sum of $3000 for the income tax year immediately preceding the date of making an application for the exemption and said spouse resides with such property owner.

(3) Unless the real property is used exclusively for residential purposes.

(4) Unless the real property is the legal residence of and is occupied in whole or in part by the property owner.

(5) Unless the property owner has been a resident of the municipality for a period of three years immediately preceding the date of making application for exemption.

§ 1004. Application for exemption

Application for such exemption must be made by the property owner on forms to be furnished by the appropriate assessing authority and shall furnish the information and be executed in the manner required on such forms, and shall be filed in such assessor's office on such date as is prescribed by the municipality.

§ 1005. Tenants in common, joint tenants, tenants by entirety, partnerships, fiduciaries, corporations

(a) Where title to property on which an exemption from municipal taxation is claimed is held by more than one person either as tenants in common or as joint tenants, each tenant 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 Chapter, 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 each tenant's proportionate share shall be as shown.

(b) Nothing in this Chapter shall preclude more than one 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 one full exemption in regard to such property shall be allowed in any year, and in any case in which the tenants 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 one exemption in regard to such property shall be allowed in any year.

(c) Right to claim exemption from municipal taxation or real property 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 from municipal taxation on real property but not to property the title to which is held by a corporation.

§1006. Rules and regulations

Each municipality granting an exemption under the authority of this Chapter may promulgate such rules and regulations and prescribe such forms as they shall deem necessary to implement this Chapter.

§ 1007. Appeals

An aggrieved taxpayer may appeal from the disposition of an exemption claim from municipal real property taxation in the same manner as is provided for appeals from assessments generally.

Approved May 16, 1970.