January 4

Maine tax relief gets local in light of state cuts

Portland will consider joining a handful of communities that provide property tax rebates to certain residents.

By Randy Billings rbillings@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Portland currently has unpaid tax bills dating back to 1989, according to city records. From 2002 to 2012, $754,000 in property taxes went uncollected, including $250,000 in 2012 alone.

City officials on Friday could not provide figures for 2013, nor could they provide annual totals of delinquent tax bills.

When property owners go too long without paying taxes, the city can place a lien and ultimately foreclose on the property.

The city also could not immediately provide information about tax liens and property foreclosures for people behind on their taxes. The city seldom forecloses on homes, said Finance Director Ellen Sanborn.

While the city has no locally funded tax relief program now, Portland was among the first communities to establish one nearly a decade ago.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court deemed the program unconstitutional because it distributed taxes in an unequal fashion. The court also ruled that Portland didn’t have the authority under Maine law to enact its own program. The Legislature has since passed a law allowing municipalities to offer property tax relief to low-income residents, but Portland has yet to take advantage of that law.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

rbillings@pressherald.com

Twitter: @randybillings

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