ELLSWORTH — Property tax bills come due in September, but now is the time homeowners should start applying for tax breaks and deferrals if concerned over their ability to pay the tax note or, if they qualify, to save some dollars for competing expenses. The deadline for submitting applications is April 1.
This year a new statewide property tax deferral program is available for residents 65 years of age and above or disabled, in addition to the annual Homestead Exemption and Veterans Exemption offered to qualifying residents throughout the state.
The tax deferral program allows residents who are at least 65 years of age or are unable to work because of a disability to defer payment of property taxes until they sell their property, move or are deceased. Any disability must be determined by a state or federal agency to be permanent and total impairment or a condition that prevents them from being employed.
In addition, qualifiers must also have income of less than $40,000 and liquid assets, such as bank and investment accounts, life insurance policies, stocks and bonds and lump-sum payments and inheritances less than $50,000 or, for joint filers, $75,000. This tax deferral program is for properties that have no limitations on the owner’s ability to sell or any exiting municipal liens and must not be receiving deferral of taxes under a municipal program.
The Homestead Exemption is open to all state residents who owned a home for more than a year as their primary residence. There is no income requirement for the exemption, which provides an up to $25,000 reduction in the assessed value of a home for property tax purposes. Camps, second residences and vacation homes do not qualify for this exemption.
For an Ellsworth resident, the exemption can save city property owners about $475, according to the city’s assessing department. And once granted, the exemption remains in effect as long as the resident continues to own the property and maintains permanent residency status in Maine.
The Veterans Exemption is for residents 62 and older who served during wartime. Savings are about $100 yearly, and widows, widowers, a minor child or widowed parent of a veteran may apply. If a veteran is receiving 100 percent disability, there is no age restriction for the exemption.
Finally, business owners are also eligible for the business equipment tax exemption program, which provides reimbursement of retail equipment taxes paid.
Applications for these tax programs are available at http://www.maine.gov/revenue/tax-return-forms/property-tax.