As housing crisis worsens, Maine homeowners need property tax relief
Maine has a housing crisis on its hands. Bolstered by an influx of homebuyers from other states escaping major cities amidst the pandemic and driving up real estate prices, the supply of affordable housing is dwindling rapidly.
For those who are fortunate enough to own a home in Maine, these rising prices translate to increased property taxes. South Portland, for example, warned its residents that they could see a 30-50 percent increase in their property taxes as a result of changes to the region’s housing market. The regressive nature of property taxes means that two people in the same jurisdiction will pay the same amount in property tax, regardless of the income of the homeowner(s). With many people losing income as a result of the pandemic’s economic effects, hardworking Mainers are at risk of being driven out of their homes by these regressive taxes, and there is a very real possibility that they won’t be able to find another place to live.
Maine’s legislature is now actively working to provide vulnerable homeowners with property tax relief through a series of bills, including:
LD 576, “An Act To Increase Property Tax Relief For Veterans”: This bill, introduced by Senate President Troy Jackson in February, would raise the property tax exemption for senior and disabled veterans of federally-recognized war periods from $6,000 to $10,000 starting in 2022.
LD 1482, “An Act To Improve Access to Property Tax Exemptions for New Homeowners”: This bill would allow new home buyers in Maine to become eligible for the homestead property tax exemption as soon as they purchase their home.
LD 1514, “An Act To Provide for Fairness in Property Taxation by Assessing a One-time Tax on Financial Assets”: This bill increases funding for state-sponsored housing programs and municipal budgets using revenue from a one-time, 0.5% tax on financial assets over $5,000,000 for Maine’s wealthiest residents.
Mainers for Working Families strongly supports these measures to relieve the growing property tax burden in our state. Homeownership is a point of pride for many of Maine’s working families, and we must do everything we can to ensure every Mainer has continuing access to safe and affordable housing.