Senior citizens and totally disabled Fairfax County residents with an annual household income of $12,000 to $15,000 may qualify for a new program permitting deferral of real estate taxes.

If taxes are deferred, the total amount of the tax, plus 8 percent annual interest, must be paid when the property is sold or when the applicant dies. The program begins Jan. 1.

Each applicant and his or her spouse must have a combined net worth, excluding the value of their residence and up to one acre of land where the home sits, of not more than $50,000. Applicants must also have a gross annual household income between $12,000 and $15,000, excluding the first $4,000 of income of each relative, other than a spouse, living in the household.

In addition to providing for real estate tax deferal, the new program offers an option to older people and disabled residents who total annual household incomes fall between $12,000 and $13,000. They may now opt either to defer real estate taxes or apply for a partial exemption from the taxes.

Total exemption of real estate taxes also is available to senior and disabled citizens who qualify. Exempted taxes are permanently forgiven and are not subject to any payback requirement. For more information on tax relief programs, call 691-2437.