Lowering property taxes

By Sen. Erin Herbig | Aug 02, 2019

Talking with people across Waldo County, one of the issues that comes up most often is property taxes. High property taxes are a burden both for people and for our economy as a whole. It’s an issue that affects all of us, but especially working people and seniors.

When property taxes are high, it’s harder for many people to make ends meet. And it limits our ability to shop at local businesses and support local jobs. For these reasons, lowering property taxes has been at the top of my agenda for a long time.

In 2017, when I was House majority leader, we increased the Homestead Exemption. In 2018, we increased the Property Tax Fairness Credit. This year, we built on that success.

During our recent legislative session we crafted and passed a strong, bipartisan budget that provides $130 million in property tax relief for hardworking Mainers, seniors, families and small businesses.

Our new budget provides property tax relief to 13,000 additional people through the Property Tax Fairness Credit, a property tax and rent relief program for Maine residents. For those who are eligible, the state returns a portion of property tax or rent when you file your income tax return.

Before, your property taxes had to constitute 6 percent of income in order for you to qualify. We lowered that to 5 percent. Maine seniors can save up to $1,200 in property taxes and eligible working Mainers and families can save up to $750 on property taxes or rent.

Second, we increased the Homestead Exemption, which provides property tax relief to all Maine residential homeowners. The budget increases the Homestead Exemption to $25,000 — $5,000 more than last year. This means homeowners in Waldo County can take $25,000 off the value of their home and pay property taxes on the remaining amount.

Third, we made a lot of progress to restore revenue sharing. Before 2015, the state returned some of the revenue generated through sales and income tax back to towns across Maine. That money helped lower property tax rates by partially funding local schools, police officers and other essential services. But in 2015 the program was eliminated, leaving towns scrambling to make up the difference. Many towns had to raise property taxes.

This year, we began to restore revenue sharing, increasing it to 2.5 percent this year, 3 percent next year, and almost 4 percent the year after that. As towns receive this funding, they will be able to lower property taxes.

Finally, we added $111 million in education funding, which will reduce the amount of school funding that towns need to raise through property taxes.

Reducing property taxes is the No. 1 concern for many people, and I’m glad we were able to make sure more of your money stays in your wallet. For information about how to apply for property tax relief, please contact me at 287-1515 or erin.herbig@legislature.maine.gov.

Sen. Herbig is serving her first term in the Maine Senate, representing Waldo County. She lives in Belfast.

Comments (5)
Posted by: Eric Schrader | Aug 08, 2019 10:38

Along the lines of help with RE property taxes, there are literally thousands of RV's that visit the State each year putting a burden on our roads and bridges, yet the people of Maine are left with the burden of absorbing the yearly excise tax ourselves, which is supposed to be earmarked for "the right to use the State roads" but is the main source of revenue for the cities general funds around the state. I would like to see a new use tax placed on all RV's coming into the State to be collected at all campgrounds based on the class of RV, starting with pop up campers all the way up to luxury Class A behemoths 45 feet long weighing in excess of 50,000 pounds and probably pulling a vehicle. It is not equitable to put the burden on state residents alone. A reasonable use tax will not stop visitors with RV's from bringing them to visit.

Posted by: Eric Schrader | Aug 05, 2019 15:15

Well Leslie, I met with our 3 legislators from Waldo County and laid out the same scenario. Both bills that were floated were flawed in one way or another. There are numerous states that already have LOST working great for years. All someone needs to do in Augusta is pick up the phone and talk to other states that have already worked out all the "bugs" in their laws. We don't need to "re-invent" the wheel, which State government does too many times. In some ways, we are 20 years behind the times in legislative initiatives. Just think, an extra $ 3.00 extracted from each of the 38 millions tourists each year is $114,000,000 worth of tax relief. Not chump change and the tourists will never miss it. They're on Vacation!

Posted by: Leslie Lavender | Aug 05, 2019 09:01

Eric, in re: to your two issues.....First, Waldo County is extremely fortunate to have a State Senator of Erin Herbig's caliber. She is a true asset to the people of Maine.


Second.....Your next proposal is good.....too good....It will never make it out of the legislature. It makes too much sense.

Posted by: Eric Schrader | Aug 05, 2019 03:59

Thank you Erin for fighting the good fight to help with crushing property taxes.

Now, the legislature just needs to pass the Local Option Sales Tax, but it needs the following attributes: 1) needs to be county by county, not city by city: the only way it will work 2) the LOST must have a sunset date, say 3 years, for a trial run, then can re-approved thru referendum 3) the amount subject to the extra penny should be capped at a reasonable $ amount, say $ 500, so that big ticket items like cars, truck purchases are exempt 4) the extra money brought in MUST to earmarked for property tax relief only, no pork barrel projects. The $ needs to stay in the County that generated it and the State needs only a very small % for administration. 5) Only impose the LOST from May 1st through October 31st, aka "The Season"

I lived in a State that had something called SPLOST, or Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and it was a smashing success, renewed twice for 5 year terms from the original vote. Nearly 1/3 of the money generated was estimated to come from non-residents. In Maine's case, it might even be much greater. We've got 38 million visitors to our State each year, the vast majority coming in non winter months. They need to help us!

Posted by: Rosanne Tartaro | Aug 03, 2019 13:18

Thank you Senator Erin Herbig .. 
this is a really huge issue for so many of us in Waldo County .. yes we know property taxes fund many things .. however, within reason .. and fairly .. In Belmont alone the raise over the last few years has been almost 65% .. more than other towns .. sadly ..
your efforts are really appreciated ..
thank you

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