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Bill giving tax relief to seniors passes W.Va. Senate

February 28, 2008|From Staff reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A bill that would allow West Virginia's seniors to freeze their property tax payments for the remaining years of their lives cleared the state Senate Wednesday, leaving 10 days for the House of Delegates to consider the proposal.

Senators on Wednesday agreed to amend Senate Bill 239 from the floor to soothe concerns by the state tax department, but an amendment by state Sens. John Unger and Donna Boley to rebate low- or fixed-income seniors increases in property taxes was retained.

Unger, D-Berkeley/Jefferson, said Wednesday night that the measure passed by a 33-0 vote.

"I am pleased to say that after working with the sponsors of the tax rebate amendment, we have crafted an amendment that will allow senior citizens whose income is below $25,000 per year the opportunity to choose the governor's proposed deferral or a tax rebate of the allowable increase," said Jim Pitrolo, Gov. Joe Manchin's legislative director.

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As originally introduced, the bill only would have allowed seniors to freeze their property tax payment at present levels and defer tax increases until after the property was transferred or sold. At that point, the increases would have been collectively deducted from the estate or sale proceeds.

"The goal is much like that of reversed mortgages - to give senior citizens more spending money for living expenses immediately," Pitrolo said in a prepared statement released by Unger's office.

As originally introduced by Senate leaders on behalf of Manchin, Senate Bill 239 was similar to legislation that state Sen. John Yoder introduced in last year's regular session. That proposal, Senate Bill 53, died in the Senate Finance Committee, according to the Legislature's Office of Reference & Information.

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