In 2013, the property tax fairness credit was enacted to replace Maine’s former “circuit breaker” program. Both programs provide tax relief to low-income Mainers whose real estate taxes or rental costs exceed specified limits.

Unlike the circuit breaker, the property tax fairness credit is part of the state income tax return. Many eligible Mainers who have no income tax filing requirements may not be taking advantage of the credit (refund).

Income limits (including Social Security) range from $33,333 for single taxpayers and up to $53,333 for married taxpayers.

To receive the credit, real estate taxes for the principal residence paid during 2015 must be greater than 6 percent of total income, or rental cost of the principal residence must exceed 40 percent of income. The credit may range from a few dollars to up to $600 or even $900 if the taxpayer is 65 years of age or older.

I encourage every Mainer who thinks he or she might be eligible for this credit to learn more. This tax relief measure was enacted for your benefit. This is particularly true if you are an older homeowner with real estate taxes that are more than 6 percent of your total income. And, unlike the old circuit breaker, if you are eligible, the credit may be available for the past three years.

Joan Jagolinzer

state coordinator, AARP Tax-Aide

Scarborough