ELLSWORTH AMERICAN – LETTERS TO EDITOR
Keeping seniors in their homes amidst escalating real estate values and increased living costs is a top priority of mine. The Legislature just made a number of changes, removing the Senior Property Tax Stabilization Program and strengthening two other programs targeted to seniors with limited resources.
The Senior Property Tax Stabilization Program had many expensive, unintended consequences. Because it had no limits on home values, or a citizen’s ability to pay, it took tax dollars from hard working Mainers and used them to subsidize property taxes for people who didn’t need assistance. It helped wealthy individuals with homes worth more than $700,000 along with seniors struggling to pay for food and medicine. The program had no limits on the amount of income seniors could earn along with retaining the stabilization value of homes that increased dramatically.
Despite obvious flaws, I wanted to fix the program instead of eliminating it. When it became obvious that supporters lacked the votes, I worked with the Democratic tax committee leadership on legislation targeting the seniors that need it most.
Under the revised program, seniors over 65 who cannot pay their property taxes can have them temporarily covered, allowing them to stay in their homes. The state, in turn, will be repaid when their estate is settled. Seniors earning less than $100,000 individually or $150,000 jointly can now qualify for a refundable tax credit.
Although not perfect, legislative changes get money to the elderly who need it most. We still need to address the underlying problem of high property taxes.
Rep. Meldon “Micky” Carmichael