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Gazett-Mail Real Estate - Articles

Friday January 10, 2014

Retirement Considerations Include Taxes, Comfort

By S.E. Slack

Retirement isn’t a cake walk, say people who in the throes of it. There’s a lot to consider when retirement looms large; including the best place to live. According to Kiplinger’s research of the tax benefits for retirees in all 50 states, the most-friendly states tend to have no state income tax or sales tax and exempt seniors from a significant portion of taxes on their property.

Alaska, for example, is a virtual tax haven for anyone who doesn’t mind rarely seeing the sun most of the year. Alaskan homeowners over the age of 65 are exempt from municipal taxes on the first $150,000 of their property’s assessed value.

Wyoming has property tax rates among the lowest in the nation; seniors who meet specific income requirements are eligible for refunds of up to $800 for utilities, sales and use taxes and property taxes. In Georgia, anyone above the age of 65 is eligible for complete state property taxes exemptions on their home and up to 10 acres of land. The state property tax is being completely phased out by 2016.

Arizona exempts Social Security benefits from taxation as well as a small portion of retirement income. Some Mississippi seniors qualify for the state's homestead exemption, which keeps them from paying taxes on the first $75,000 of their primary home’s value.

Other states like Nevada offer few tax breaks on property but don’t have estate or inheritance taxes.

Some experts, however, caution seniors to look beyond taxation when considering a state to retire in. David Ning, a personal finance columnist for U.S. News and World Report, said that prospective retirees should think about public transportation, weather and the overall cost of living.

“The more convenient everything is, the more likely it is that you will be able to enjoy the local amenities,” he said.

And the more money that stays in your pocket, the more comfortable you’ll be. Smart retirees look at all sides of the equation before making any move at all.

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