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Tax credit would help Washington Co. senior homeowners

May 18, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
  • Washington County is proposing additional tax relief for homeowners who are at least 70 years old.
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WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Washington County homeowners who are at least 70 years old could save additional money on their property tax bills under a tax relief measure proposed by the county.

The measure, a county supplement to the state's Homeowners' Tax Credit Program, is part of the fiscal year 2011 budget the Washington County Commissioners are scheduled to vote on Tuesday.

The Homeowners' Tax Credit Program is a state program that provides a credit for taxes owed over a certain percentage of the homeowner's household income. The county's supplement would further reduce those percentages as applied to county real property taxes for homeowners 70 and older, making more households eligible for a credit and increasing the amount of the credit for some already receiving it, County Treasurer Todd Hershey said.

A home would be considered eligible if at least one of the homeowners is 70 or older, Hershey said.

Based on 2009 taxes, the supplement is expected to benefit 955 households and cost the county $100,492.79 in tax revenue, for an average benefit of about $105 for those households, Hershey said.

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The Washington County Commissioners have discussed tax relief for seniors for years, but implementation details took some time to work out, County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said.

Under the state program, eligible homeowners already have a maximum tax liability of 0 percent of the first $8,000 of income, 4 percent of the next $4,000, 6.5 percent of the next $4,000, and 9 percent of all income above $16,000. Taxes owed beyond this amount are covered by the credit.

The proposed county supplement would further limit any county property taxes owed after the state credit for eligible seniors 70 and older. Under the county program, maximum county property tax liability would be calculated as 0 percent of the first $12,000 of income, 5 percent of the next $4,000, and 9 percent of all income above $16,000.

For example, under the state program, a homeowner with a household income of $10,000 would receive a credit for all but $80 of property tax ($0 on the first $8,000 and 4 percent of the next $2,000). With the county supplement (0 percent of the first $12,000 of income), all of that homeowner's county property taxes would be covered by credits.

Like the Homeowners' Tax Credit, the supplement would only apply to homeowner-occupied homes with annual household income not exceeding $60,000, and the credit would only apply to taxes owed on up to $300,000 of assessed property value.

Other eligibility requirements and limitations are detailed on the State Department of Assessments and Taxation website at http://www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/htc.html.

If approved, the additional tax relief would reduce the property tax bills of qualified homeowners as of July 1.




How to apply:



Washington County homeowners who apply for the Maryland Homeowners' Property Tax Credit will automatically be evaluated for eligibility for the county's additional relief for seniors.

Applications are available at http://www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/HTC-60.pdf or from the State Department of Assessments and Taxation at 3 Public Square in Hagerstown or the Washington County Treasurer's Office at 35 W. Washington St., Suite 102, in Hagerstown.

Applications are due Sept. 1 and must be resubmitted each year. Those who have already applied this year will not need to submit another application.

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