OPINIONS: No more property tax stabilization program


by Katrina Smith
State Represenative
District #62
China, Palermo, Somerville & Windsor

What can our Seniors do now?

The popular state tax assistance for seniors entitled the “Property Tax Stabilization Program”, which allowed those over the age of 65 to freeze their property taxes, has been eliminated during this past legislative session. (A vote for the budget was a vote for this program to be eliminated. Personally, I voted against the budget for this and other reasons.) Many seniors are asking, “What now?” The good news is that several State of Maine programs have been expanded that will hopefully assist our Seniors with their finances.

The first program to be expanded is the Property Tax Fairness Credit. The property tax fairness credit provides that Eligible Maine taxpayers may receive a portion of the property tax or rent paid during the tax year on the Maine individual income tax return whether they owe Maine income tax or not. If the credit exceeds the amount of your individual income tax due for the tax year, the excess amount of credit will be refunded to you. The program increased the credit from $1,500 to $2,000 for individuals 65 or older. To take advantage of this program you need to file a ME1040 and a Property Tax Fairness tax form.

The second program is the Deferred Collection of Homestead Property Taxes. The State Property Tax Deferral Program is a loan program that can cover the annual property tax bills of Maine people who are ages 65 and older or are permanently disabled and who cannot afford to pay them on their own. The loan program allows Maine’s most vulnerable community members to age in place and ensures that property taxes are still delivered to municipalities, requiring repayment of the loan once the property is sold or becomes part of an estate. The program was updated to double the income threshold to $80,000 a year and also the liquid asset threshold limit to $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for couples. There are a few other guidelines for this program, but to see if you qualify you must file an application with your local municipal assessor between January 1 and April 1.

I hope this information is useful to our Seniors and helps them to afford to live out their golden years by relieving some of the stress involved with property taxes. I am happy to help direct anyone to other resources and can be reached at katrina.smith@legislature.maine.gov.


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