In his report to the City Council on June 6, 2023, City Manager Steve Buck explained changes that are happening regarding the Senior Property Tax Stabilization program. This program was announced last fall and hundreds of Sanford taxpayers signed up.
The Stabilization program will now operate as originally proposed only for the first year. The original design of the program allowed any permanent Maine resident at least 65 years old, who has owned a qualified homestead for at least ten years, to freeze their property tax bill at the previous year’s amount. The state of Maine would make up the difference between the previous year’s bill and the current year’s bill.
The Stabilization program was planned as an addition to the Property Tax Deferral program. The Deferral program allows seniors and disabled residents who meet certain income requirements to defer paying property taxes altogether, until the home is sold or they pass away. It is essentially a low-interest loan. (To learn more about the Deferral program, visit https://www.maine.gov/revenue/taxes/tax-relief-credits-programs/property-tax-relief-programs/deferral-program.)
To replace the Stabilization program after the first year, legislators are proposing a combination of two elements. The first element would be an expansion of the Property Tax Deferral program, by increasing the maximum income and assets that are allowed to qualify. The maximum income would increase from $40,000 to $80,000, and the maximum assets would increase from $50,000 to $100,000.
The second proposed element would be an increase in the Property Tax Fairness Credit from $1,500 to $2,000. This is a credit on your Maine state income tax return. Mr. Buck said while this could have a good benefit for taxpayers, there is “a disconnect” for some people, who will take the credit and then not use the money to pay their property taxes.
He said that however it’s accomplished, replacing the Stabilization program is good for Sanford, as it would have been very time consuming for City staff to manage it. However, he noted that the legislature is still debating the changes, so “who knows what next week will look like.”
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