Many Maine property taxpayers will get a little bit of extra cash in their pockets this winter.

State Treasurer Henry Beck announced Tuesday that homeowners who are eligible for the state’s Homestead Exemption program will get checks for about $100 in January or February.

Beck said the checks would be sent to about 305,000 homeowners.

The refund is part of a bipartisan tax package promoted by Speaker of the House Sara Gideon, D-Freeport. Gideon’s bill amended a previous law passed under Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Republican majorities in the Legislature in 2012.

That measure required that the fund, when it reached a specified balance, send a rebate to all property taxpayers in Maine. Gideon’s bill renamed the fund and limited the rebate to taxpayers who had also enrolled in the Homestead Exemption program.

The rebate is now triggered whenever the relief fund has enough money to provide all participants in the Homestead Exemption program at least $100. The measure was among several changes to the program made by the Legislature in 2019.

The Homestead Exemption program allows eligible homeowners, those who have lived in a home for more than one year as of April 1 and declare it their primary residence, to exempt the first $20,000 of assessed value from local property taxation.

The relief fund is fueled by a transfer from the state’s general fund if therer is a surplus at the end of each fiscal year. The fund receives 40 percent of the general fund surplus under the law.

“Maine people made clear they want property tax relief,” Beck said in a prepared statement. He said the bill would provide about $30 million in direct relief to property taxpayers.

Republican leaders called foul on Gideon and Beck for taking credit for the underlying law, which was promoted by Republicans and largely opposed by Democrats at the time.

“It is unconscionable that a State Treasurer whose job is to serve all of the people of Maine should make such a misleading, partisan statement transferring credit from those who fought for this tax refund back in 2012 to those who voted against it,” Senate Minority Leader Dana Dow, R-Waldoboro said in a prepared statement late Tuesday.

A link to information about the exemption, including frequently asked questions and an application, can be found on the Maine Revenue Services website.

 

 


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