Rules published for the property tax stabilization program for seniors



A new property tax stabilization program to help seniors stay in their homes came into effect on August 8.

Under the rules of the program, which provides property tax stabilization to permanent residents of Maine age 65 or older who have owned homesteads in Maine for at least 10 years, the 10-year qualifying period does not does not have to be consecutive. Also, if a property is owned by more than one person, only one of the owners needs to be eligible for the program.

There is also no income or asset limit to qualify for the program and no refund amount if a property is removed from the program.

According to rules published by Maine Revenue Services (MRS), municipalities are responsible for accepting applications for the program, due by December 1 each year, verifying an applicant’s eligibility, and providing notice indicating whether the candidate was approved or refused. In addition, municipalities are responsible for tracking properties in the program, the amount of stabilized property taxes, and taxes that would otherwise have been assessed.

Municipalities must also retain requests for reference and “for state assessment audit purposes” and must apply to the MRS for reimbursement annually by November 1.

State responsibilities include providing requests, instructions and advice to municipal officials. In addition, MRS will review refund requests annually and reimburse “eligible municipalities by January 15 for 100% of the difference between the amount charged to the participating individual and the tax that would otherwise be due.”

The Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS), which houses the MRS, did not return a request for comment regarding whether it will provide support to municipalities if it determines that an individual is not eligible to participate in the program after a municipality has approved a claim.

DAFS also did not return a request for comment indicating whether it was concerned there were any shortcomings in the program and what steps it could take to address them.

Kate Dufour, a representative for the Maine Municipal Association, which has opposed the program since it was a bill, said her group believes there are “many unintended negative consequences associated with the promulgation of the program.

“However, it will take time and trial and error to identify all possible flaws,” Dufour added.



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