Governor Mills Announces $ 3.5 Million in Lifetime Loans to Cover Property Tax Bills for Maine Seniors and Disabled

As rising home values ​​weigh on Maine residents on fixed incomes, a Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan initiative will help pay property tax bills for Maine seniors and those with severe disabilities. permed

Augusta, ME (STL.News) Governor Janet Mills announced that her administration is launching the State Property Tax Deferral Program, a lifetime loan program through the Governor’s Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan which can cover the annual property tax bills of qualifying Maine individuals who are 65 years of age and older or have a permanent disability and who cannot afford to pay them themselves. The loan program will allow Maine’s most vulnerable community members to age in place and ensure that property taxes are still paid to municipalities. The program requires repayment of the loan once the property is sold or is part of an estate.

The State Property Tax Deferral Program is modeled on a similar program that expired from the 1990s, this time funded by $ 3.5 million from the Federal American Rescue Plan through the Governor’s Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan. It complements an additional $ 60 million investment in the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to build more housing for Maine residents. Together, these Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan initiatives can help deal with Maine’s booming real estate market, which makes housing harder to afford and threatens to displace tenants, working class families, older Mainers. and those who are permanently disabled have stable housing opportunities. .

“Seniors and people with disabilities deserve to live and grow old in the comfort of their own homes without the fear of losing them because they cannot pay property taxes,” Governor Janet Mills said. “This My Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan program gives people the peace of mind that they can age safely in their home. My administration will continue to work with the legislature to settle property taxes, increase the availability of housing, and ensure that everyone in Maine, regardless of age or income, can have a safe and stable place to call home. them in our state. “

“The state’s property tax deferral program can help the elderly or disabled with no other option to pay their property taxes, allowing people to stay in their homes, without crippling local budgets,” said Kirsten Figueroa, commissioner of the administrative and financial department. Services. “We are working with municipalities in Maine to process claims and payments for the current tax year.”

“I hear so many people in Maine telling me that their property taxes are just too high and going up more and more. This problem is particularly difficult for retired and disabled Mainers who have fixed incomes. That is why I first sponsored a bill to reinstate the property tax deferral program years ago in the 128th Parliament, ”said Senator Donna Bailey. “After years of fighting for this program and the relief it will bring to thousands of people in Maine, I was proud to see it finally become law. As long as I am at the State House, I will continue to fight for action that will bring real relief to real people. “

“While everyone wants to age in place for as long as possible, too many fixed-income seniors have to leave their homes because they can’t pay property taxes. The state’s property tax deferral program offers an ingenious solution to this problem, ”said Jess Maurer, executive director of the Maine Council on Aging. “Governor Mills and the Legislative Assembly, especially sponsor Senator Donna Bailey, are to be commended for creating a self-sustaining program that works for everyone, especially the older Mainers who stay at home. “

“City leaders commend Governor Mills and members of the Legislative Assembly for reinstating Maine’s property tax deferral program. This program will help eligible residents stay in their homes, without placing additional burdens on property taxpayers, ”said James Bennett, president of the Maine Municipal Association and City Manager of Biddeford. “The adoption of this program, coupled with state funding of 55% of K-12 education spending, returning municipal revenue sharing distributions to 5% of state revenue over sales and income tax, as well as the gradual increase in state reimbursement under the homestead exemption program underlines the state’s commitment to reduce the tax burden on property taxpayers. This is a much needed and welcome investment in the communities of Maine.

The governor has also increased housing options for older Mainers, in 2019 signing a voter-approved $ 15 million senior housing bond held by his predecessor. The governor also enacted the state’s largest housing investment in Maine history and recently inaugurated a major new housing project resulting from this law.

The state property tax deferral program builds on this work by paying property tax bills to municipalities in Maine for any owner-occupied primary residence as long as the owner is 65 years of age or older. and / or permanently disabled, earns less than $ 40,000 per year, and has cash flow of less than $ 50,000 (or less than $ 75,000 if jointly requested). Full eligibility criteria and applications can be obtained through Maine Revenue Services.

Homeowners must submit applications to the municipality where they live. Municipalities will work directly with Maine Revenue Services, a division of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, to process claims and related payments.

In order to maintain the state’s property tax deferral program indefinitely, beyond the initial allocation of $ 3.5 million in federal funds, all property tax bills covered by the program will be refunded. when the property is sold or becomes part of an estate.

In addition to the state’s property tax deferral program under the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, the Mills Administration has continuously provided tax relief to Maine residents by:

  • Make a historic investment in Maine public schools, meeting the state’s obligation to pay 55% of the cost of K-12 education for the first time in Maine history;
  • Increase direct tax relief for 83,000 low- and middle-income people who have been hit hard by the pandemic;
  • Completely restore revenue sharing with municipalities to five percent;
  • Initiate and administer the Local Tax Adjustment Program, which has injected more than $ 59 million into local governments in more than 461 communities in Maine;
  • Preserving the power of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which provides tax relief to middle- and low-income Maine families with children;
  • Exempt up to $ 10,200 in unemployment benefits from income tax for the 2020 tax year; and
  • Return more than $ 149 million in tax receipts directly to families in Maine in 2021.

The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the governor’s plan, approved by the legislature, to invest nearly $ 1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to achieve three goals: immediate economic recovery from the pandemic; long-term economic growth for Maine; and revitalization of infrastructure.

It draws heavily on the recommendations of the governor’s economic recovery committee and the state’s 10-year economic development strategy, turning them into concrete actions to improve the lives of Maine residents and strengthen the economy.

Funding for the jobs plan comes through the US federal bailout act, which allocated $ 4.5 billion in stimulus funds to Maine in 2021.

The coordination of the employment plan is led by the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services and the Governor’s Office for Policy Innovation and Future, through a new office of the plan for the employment and revival of Maine.

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