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Selectmen Looking at Tax Freeze Program

The town already has a tax deferment and tax abatement program; this would be a new one.

 

The Board of Selectmen at their last two meetings have discussed a possible new tax freeze program for town residents.

The town already has tax abatement and tax deferment programs on the books.

A tax freeze program means that if you qualify, your current tax amount, say $4,000 a year on your house, "freezes" or stays the same each year until you leave that home, make certain improvements to the home, die, or no longer qualify for the program.

No decisions have been made on the program - it is only in the discussion phase.

"Guilford has a tax freeze program as does East Lyme and Lyme," explained First Selectman Willie Fritz. "Part of it is designed to keep seniors in their own homes and in town. Also, this would help ease the tax burden for residents on fixed incomes."

The program would require reaching a certain age (usually 65 and older) and having an adjusted gross income per tax records that is usually in the $55,000 range.  The adjusted gross income would be the total maximum income for the applicant. If the applicant is married, the combined income could be no more than $55,000 (or the final number decided for the ordinance.)

Residents who are 100% disabled could also apply for the program regardless of their age.

There are other requirements such as length of residency (you must live in town or in the state for a certain period) and your home must be your primary residence.

"If you meet the requirements, what you pay now in tax is what you pay every year as long as you are eligible," said Fritz.

If accepted, you must re-apply for the program each year. Residents cannot take part in more than one town-sponsored tax program.

Fritz said that the Assessors Office said approximately 500 people in town qualify for the program. This number could increase or decrease depending upon the final income and age levels.  Costs to the town were discussed in the $350,000 range. There is $130,000 set aside for it now.

The program will be reviewed again at the next board meeting.

Pete January 14, 2013 at 01:38 PM
While this sounds great for those who qualify how is it fair to ask the rest of us to pay the difference? Pretty soon it won't pay to go to work at all. The government is paying more and more for those that didn't prepare.
Clinton resident January 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM
This is a fantastic idea. I applaud our board of selectmen for suggesting this as it is a way to protect seniors. Do the taxes that would have been owed (ie, the difference between the frozen amount and the actual amount based on assessments) get paid back when the house is sold? I wish the reporter would have covered that in her story.
Fay Abrahamsson (Editor) January 15, 2013 at 02:16 AM
Elaine - there's so much more to this proposed tax freeze coming our way. This first article is just an outline of the proposal with not a lot of details as they were not yet available. Sorry. More info to come!
Phil Sengle January 16, 2013 at 02:24 AM
I am concerned about the added tax burden the ineligible will have to bear as a result of these type programs. Also many seniors will not qualify, so let's not waive that flag around. Maybe a tax lein to repay the tax discount once the property is sold would help rather than a straight give away. A tax abatement program to encourage commercial development would be much smarter as the resultant growth in the grand list would eventually turn into a profit.
Jay January 16, 2013 at 05:55 PM
It is a con job. The real intent is to stop seniors from voting No on more tax increases while placing the current increases burden on the rest. There is also a potential kicker in that the taxes deferred become due and Payable upon death or selling the property. The entire program is nothing more than the old trick of setting dividing and conquering the opposition.
Stephen King February 25, 2013 at 12:36 PM
Personally, I would agree to it for 55 or older with no kids in the school system. Financially speaking, a larger empty-nester population is what is needed in our demographic mix.

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