The Marin Post

The Voice of the Community

Blog Post < Previous | Next >

Lower Your Local Taxes, Fees Before Deadlines

Filing Deadlines Soon!
Tax and Fee Exemptions & Discounts for


Low & Middle Income

People w Disabilities & Medical Conditions

MMWD & PGE Customers Who are Overpaying

APPLY NOW! Filing Deadlines Soon!

Please Note: You May Need to Reapply Each Year

Immediate Upcoming Deadlines

Mill Valley Schools — May 31
Mill Valley Sanitary Sewer - May 31
Marin County Free Library system — June 1
Reed Union — June 1
San Rafael City Schools — June 1

Slightly Later Upcoming Deadlines

Ross Valley Sanitary District — June 30
Larkspur Corte Madera Schools — June 30
Shoreline Unified School District — June 30
Bolinas-Stinson Union School District — July 1
Kentfield Schools — July 1

Because so many tax- and rate-payers miss out on cost-saving opportunities for which they qualify, CO$T distributes informational bulletins to Marin County taxpayer-voters each spring, updated to include new discounts and exemptions as well as increased thresholds for income-based exemptions and discounts.

Please read this entire email! You may be surprised to find you are eligible to pay less!

Time is short to submit applications for exemptions and discounts on an array of Marin add-on property taxes and agency fees as well as rates on essential services such as water and sewer. Residents who may qualify include those who are seniors, disabled, have low to MODERATE income, have larger families, and have special circumstances (e.g., medical conditions that require extra water or electricity).

Many Marin individuals and families who consider themselves middle-class qualify for "low income" discounts: Income cutoffs are often at 80% of Marin's median or the even more generous income levels used by HUD to determine eligibility for housing assistance. All income-based discounts have upward adjustments for family size.

Several agencies also provide financial incentives that are unrelated to income.

We tell you below how to find out which of the taxes, fees, and rates you pay offer exemptions and discounts, how and when to apply, and how to determine if you qualify.


Marin County’s Property Tax Exemption webpage has a full list of the agencies whose taxes are collected via property tax bills and may offer discounts/exemptions. (Certain agencies, e.g., water, send a bill to the property owner or renter directly and offer discounts, some of which we describe further down this page.)

If you enter your parcel number in the box on the county’s exemption page, the website pulls up a list of all the agencies that bill YOU through your property tax bill. The list also identifies the specific agencies on your tax bill that offer exemptions. For each one, there is a telephone number for more details regarding the criteria and deadlines; in many instances, there is a hotlink to the application form.

BIG POTENTIAL SAVINGS ON SCHOOL PARCEL TAXES: Most school districts offer parcel tax exemptions for ALL seniors 65 and older; some offer exemptions for low-income and disabled taxpayers as well. On the county's exemption page for your tax bill (see above), you'll find that school parcel taxes are the largest exemptions and discounts available. W While a few school districts had exemption application deadlines on May 1, most of districts are still accepting applications but have deadlines that are coming up soon. Don't delay. School income- and disability-based discounts require annual filing. School parcel tax exemptions for seniors need only be applied for once, though you may need to file a new application if the person listed on your tax bill changes. Read your tax bill (or tax exemption page) carefully. You are likely paying school parcel taxes to multiple districts (e.g., K-8 and high school). If so, you must file separate exemption applications for each district to maximize your savings. Note that CA school bond tax measures can't offer senior exemptions or discounts, an important fact about which many taxpayer-voters are unaware.

Mark your calendar!
Reapply annually for any expiring exemptions!

Several non-school discounts and exemptions are available, most of which require annual refiling or verification. Listed below are some of the more financially significant ones offered.

There is a low-income senior exemption (65+) for the Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority parcel tax. YOU MUST REAPPLY EVERY YEAR to reconfirm proof of income level. Your application must be postmarked by June 30. Learn how to apply here. Don't assume you are ineligible! Many middle-income households qualify. The latest posted income limit (updated annually) is $104,400 for a 1-person household; $119,300 for two people; $134,200 for three; $149,100 for four; and $161,050 for five; these limits are typically increased in early summer. This tax is assessed on building square footage. To ensure you're not being overcharged, you should also verify that the official records show that the square footage of your property is accurate. If not, contact the Assessor's office.

Note that some agencies such as the MWPA do not acknowledge receipt or approval of your exemption/discount application. Consequently, you should keep proof of all your exemption/discount applications and then carefully review your tax bill AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVE IT. If you can prove that your valid application was not reflected on your tax bill, immediately contact the agency to ask for an adjustment. Advocating on behalf of taxpayers, CO$T is urging agencies to acknowledge receipt of each application and inform the taxpayer in writing whether it has been approved.

Marin Municipal Water District has several water bill discount programs listed here that are based on income, certain medical conditions, or having internal fire suppression sprinklers. Most people are unaware of MMWD's generous income-based fee waiver program, which is open to every household that qualifies (not just seniors). Both meter-size-based charges on your water bill — totaling hundreds of dollars annually — are completely waived from the bills of qualifying families. Here are the income caps as of July 2023: $83,280 for a one-person household; $95,160 for 2; $107,040 for 3; $118,920 for 4; and increasing stepwise up to $157,000 for 8. Those caps will be raised and posted on MMWD's website when the HUD data on which they are based is released in mid-May.

In response to customer complaints about its sizeable fixed fees tied to the diameter of the customer's meter (incoming pipe), MMWD is also telling customers that they can save money by swapping out residential meters that are over 5/8” in size. (Check your water bill for your meter size.) The charges for meter downsizing are listed in item 1.2 in the district's rate/fee schedule. Make sure you ask what it will cost if you have to re-upsize, if, for example, you have to install interior fire suppression sprinklers. For more information, call MMWD at 415-945-1400 or email

All residential customers who have interior fire suppression sprinklers are eligible for lower meter-size-based charges if they apply for MMWD's capital maintenance fee reduction program.

In addition, there are many rebate programs related to water efficiency product purchases.

More Cost-Saving Opportunities Below

A variety of discounts and exemptions are offered by other agencies that may be on your property tax bill or may be billing you directly. Some are only available to seniors. Some use a “very low income” standard, meaning not as many customers qualify as do under the “low-income” standard used by MWPA. The most sizeable of these miscellaneous discounts and exemptions are those offered by water and sanitation districts.

There are several other exemptions and discounts not listed here. Check the county exemption website to ensure you know about all of them. We are not responsible for any omissions or errors in this public service message.

You CAN lower your PG&E bill. Here's how!

First, look into the several low-income discount programs PG&E offers. Second, learn about how the time-of-use plans impact you. PG&E automatically transitioned residential customers to the time-of-use plan back in 2021, which may have RAISED your bill unduly. You might achieve a lower bill if you change your habits: e.g., what time of day you use energy-intensive appliances. Or you may get a lower bill by changing your PG&E rate plan to the one that's more cost-effective for your usage pattern. This is easy to do. Click here, then click the "compare rate plans now" button on the right side of the page to explore whether choosing a different rate plan will prevent a higher bill or lower what you're already paying. Beware though, that your utility bill could change significantly in coming months owing to legislation that greenlighted the implementation of new fixed fees, which will be applied to the bills of everyone except those who are very low income.

Disclaimer: CO$T provides information about tax and fee exemptions and discounts as a public service to our readers. You must contact the county and/or agencies via website, email or phone for the most up to date and accurate information. We are not responsible for any errors or omissions.


Exemption, Discount