Bill referred to the Legislature’s Taxation Committee
February 10, 2009
AUGUSTA – The Maine House of Representatives referred legislation Tuesday to the Joint Standing Committee on Taxation that seeks to provide Maine seniors with increased rebates from the Maine Property Tax and Rent Refund Program. Rep. Mike Shaw, D-Standish, brought the legislation forward after a constituent reviewed the “Circuit Breaker” application with him this fall.
“One of the reasons the Circuit Breaker program was first created was to help offset rising property tax bills, which impact seniors disproportionately,” said Shaw. “This bill is about trying to help more seniors stay in their homes.”
Shaw’s legislation would change the current eligibility formula for the Circuit Breaker program to allow people over age 65 to calculate their total household income using their federal adjusted gross income. Currently, the total household income definition does not permit seniors to note standard deductions commonly applied to other tax programs.
Including seniors, more than 200,000 Mainers are eligible for rebates through the Circuit Breaker program of up to $2,000. The refund is available to homeowners and renters who meet the income requirements: families earning up to $80,000 are eligible, as well as individuals earning up to $60,000. Current senior income requirements, which allow for larger refund amounts, are $13,600 for individuals and $16,800 for a family.
Applications may still be filed for rebates on property taxes paid in 2007 until June 1, 2009. In order to qualify for a refund, 2007 property taxes must be more than four percent of household income, or the yearly rent paid must be more than 20 percent of household income.
The Joint Standing Committee on Taxation will hold a public hearing on Shaw’s bill, LD 404, An Act to Promote Property Tax Relief for Maine’s Senior Citizens, later this month. For more information on the Property Tax and Rent Refund Program, visit Maine Revenue.
Rep. Mike Shaw, 787-4352
Casey Johnson Bromberg, Legislative Aide, 287-1430
Kyle Leighton, Communications Director, 287-1433