The city of South Portland and the state of Maine offer a number of tax relief and tax exemption programs. We would like to ensure our residents are taking advantage of these programs and help you understand how to access them.

One of the programs offered by the state is the Property Tax Fairness Credit, which provides up to $750 for qualifying residents under 65 and $1,200 for qualifying residents 65 years of age and older. The program is available to renters and homeowners alike. There are income restrictions that vary for single and joint filers.

The city of South Portland and the state of Maine offer a number of tax relief and tax exemption programs. Courtesy image

Even if you do not file federal taxes, you can complete a brief Maine tax form to apply. The finance department can refer you to an AARP volunteer who can help you with the tax form. These referrals start being made in January. For more information, call the South Portland Finance Department at 207-767-7612 or visit www.maine.gov/revenue/taxes/tax-relief-credits-programs/income-tax-credits/property-tax-fairness-credit, or call the State at 626-8475 for more information.

South Portland offers a Senior Property Tax Relief program that bases qualification in large part on the aforementioned state Property Tax Fairness Credit. Residents 68 and older who meet certain criteria can apply for this tax refund if they qualify for the above credit. Note: The city will consider lowering the age requirement to 65 in the near future.

Applications for these programs must be received by May 1, 2022. If you have any questions, would like the application mailed, or need assistance completing the application, please contact the finance department at 767-7612. The application can also be found online at www.southportland.org/departments/finance-department/south-portland-tax-assistance-program/.

Some of the other major exemption/relief programs offered by the state are listed below. More information on each can be found at www2.maine.gov/revenue/taxes/tax-relief-credits-programs/property-tax-relief-programs/property-tax-exemptions or by calling the state at 626-8475 or the South Portland Assessor’s Office at 767-7604.

· Homestead Exemption. The program provides a measure of property tax relief for certain individuals that have owned homestead property in Maine for at least 12 months and make the property they occupy on April 1 their permanent residence. Property owners would receive an exemption of $25,000.

· Veterans Exemption. A veteran who served during a recognized war period and is 62 years or older; or, is receiving 100 percent disability as a veteran; or, became 100 percent disabled while serving, is eligible for a $6,000 exemption.

· Paraplegic Veteran Exemption. A veteran who received a federal grant for a specially adapted housing unit may receive a $50,000 exemption.

· Blind Exemption. An individual who is determined to be legally blind may receive a $4,000 exemption.

· Renewable Energy Investment Exemption. The program exempts renewable energy equipment, such as solar panels, from property tax beginning April 1, 2020. Taxpayers must apply for the credit by April 1 of the first year the exemption is requested. The state offers special, reduced assessed values for tree stands that are 10 acres or more in size, active farms, or dedicated open space. Contact the assessing office at 767-7604 for more information.

Information on these programs can also found at www2.maine.gov/revenue/taxes/tax-relief-credits-programs/property-tax-relief-programs/land-use-programs.

Finally, if all of these programs do not help, there is an option to apply for a hardship tax abatement, by which the South Portland City Council could abate some or all over-due property taxes. To begin this process, contact the South Portland Social Services Office at 767-7617.

Scott Morelli is city manager for South Portland. He can be reached at [email protected] Susan Henderson is secretary for Age Friendly South Portland and councilor at large. She can be reached at [email protected]

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