AUGUSTA — A bill by Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, would increase the maximum return under the Property Tax Fairness Credit by using a portion of the state’s annual surplus.
The bill — LD 959 “An Act to Expand Property Tax Relief for Maine Residents” — received a public hearing before the Taxation Committee on Thursday.
The Property Tax Fairness Credit gives low- and middle-income homeowners and renters a tax break to offset the cost of property taxes. Sen. Chenette’s bill would increase the maximum credit available under this program by requiring 1 percent of any potential state budget surplus to be sent to a new Property Tax Fairness Credit Fund.
“The Property Tax Fairness Credit has been a successful initiative to provide direct relief for Maine residents to reduce their overall tax burden,” said Sen. Chenette. “If we want to provide much-needed relief to property taxpayers, we as a Legislature need to put our money where our mouth is.”
Chenette said that Maine has been in a “surplus environment” recently, presenting an opportunity to provide meaningful relief to taxpayers. As a result of Maine’s economy inching out of the recession, greater revenues have come into the state coffers. Last month, lawmakers returned nearly $30 million to the state’s rainy day fund.
“If we have $30 million going into the coffers, under this bill, we would simply ensure that $300,000 would go towards the Property Tax Fairness Credit. That is a more than fair outcome,” said Chenette.
LD 959 faces further action in the Taxation Committee and votes in the House and Senate.