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Maine offers tax relief plan for disabled, elderly residents

The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) Matt Rourke

Maine offers tax relief plan for disabled, elderly residents

January 06, 05:00 PM January 06, 05:00 PM

Disabled and elderly Mainers who are struggling to pay their property taxes this year could be getting some help from the state through a new relief program.

The State Property Tax Deferral Program unveiled by the Mills administration on Wednesday will provide $3.5 million in loans to cover the annual property tax bills of Maine people who are ages 65 and older or are permanently disabled and can’t afford to pay them on their own.

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Gov. Janet Mills said the program, which is based on a similar initiative that expired in the 1990s, will provide seniors and disabled homeowners “with the peace of mind that they can age safely and securely in their homes.”

“Older Mainers and those with disabilities deserve to live and age in the comfort of their homes without worrying they’ll lose them because they can’t afford the property taxes,” she said.

Money for the new program comes from the state’s share of American Rescue Plan Act funds, a $1 billion pandemic relief bill signed by President Joe Biden last year, Mills said.

Officials praised the move and said it will help buoy Mainers who are struggling to pay their bills amid the prolonged pandemic.

“While everyone wants to age in their homes for as long as possible, too many older Mainers on fixed incomes have to leave their homes because they cannot afford the property taxes,” said Jess Maurer, executive director of the Maine Council on Aging. “The State Property Tax Deferral Program crafts an ingenious solution to this problem.”

Under the program, the state will defer local property tax bills for eligible participants and will reimburse municipal governments for the loss of tax revenue.

To be eligible, residents must be at least 65 years old or unable to work due to a disability, according to the state Department of Administration and Financial Services.

Applicants must also have income of less than $40,000 and liquid assets of less than $50,000, or $75,000 if filing a joint application, the agency said.

Sen. Donna Bailey, D-Saco, who has pushed for similar legislation for years, said she often hears from Mainers “who say their property taxes are just too high, and getting higher.”

“This problem is particularly difficult for retired and disabled Mainers who are on fixed incomes,” she said in a statement. “After years of fighting for this program and the relief it will bring to thousands of Maine people, I was proud to see it finally become law.”

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