[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Westbrook as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 5-13-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-85 (Ch. 41 of the 2007 Code)]
[Amended 6-15-2020 by Ord. No. 2020-65]
The purpose of this article is to establish property tax assistance to persons 68 years of age and older who are residents of the City. Under this program, the City shall provide refund payments to those individuals who maintain a homestead in the City and meet the criteria established by this article.
For purposes of this article, the following definitions shall apply:
- The dwelling owned or rented by a taxpayer or held in a revocable living trust for the benefit of the taxpayer and occupied by the taxpayer and file taxpayer's dependents as a home and may consist of a part of a multidwelling or multipurpose building and a part of the land, up to 10 acres, upon which it is built. For purposes of this article, "owned" includes a vendee in possession under a land contract, one or more joint tenants or tenants in common and possession under a legally binding agreement that allows the owner of the dwelling to transfer the property but continue to occupy the dwelling as a home until some future event stated in the agreement.
- PROPERTY TAX FAIRNESS CREDIT
- The credit issued by the State of Maine under the provisions of 36 M.R.S.A. § 5219-KK.
- QUALIFYING APPLICANT
- A person who is determined by the Tax Collector to be eligible for tax assistance under the provisions of this article.
- RENT CONSTITUTING PROPERTY TAX
- Fifteen percent of the gross rent actually paid for the right of occupancy of the homestead. For purposes of this article "gross rent" means rent paid in an arms-length transaction solely for the right of occupancy of a homestead, exclusive of charges for any utilities, service, furniture, furnishings, or appliances furnished by the landlord as part of the rental agreement, whether or not expressly set forth in the rental agreement.
In order to participate in the property tax assistance program, an applicant must demonstrate the following:
The applicant is at least 68 years of age as of July 1 of the tax year for which the applicant seeks property tax assistance.
[Amended 6-15-2020 by Ord. No. 2020-65]
The applicant has a homestead in the City at the time of the application and for the entire year prior to the date of the application.
The applicant has been a resident of the City for at least 10 years immediately preceding the date of the application.
Application form. Any person seeking to participate in the property tax assistance program shall submit an application to the Tax Collector on a form provided by the City. Applications shall be available at City Hall and on the website. The application must include the name of the applicant, the homestead address for which property tax assistance is requested and contact information. The application must include evidence of receipt of a property tax fairness credit and the amount of the credit.
Time for filing of application; annual requirement. An application for property tax assistance under this article must be filed by September 1 immediately following the federal tax year for which property tax assistance is sought. For the first year of this program, any application for the 2018 federal tax year must be filed not later than September 1, 2019. A new application must be filed for every year that the person seeks to participate in the program. If the Tax Collector determines that additional information is required to determine eligibility or otherwise process the application, no action shall be taken on the application until such information is provided by the applicant.
Determination of eligibility; timing of payment. The Tax Collector shall review each completed application and determine whether the applicant is eligible to participate in the program and has met the criteria set forth in § 286-5. The Tax Collector shall notify each applicant about the determination of eligibility. The decision by the Tax Collector on eligibility and amount awarded shall be final. Payment shall be issued within 14 days after the date of the notification of eligibility.
Limitation on total property tax assistance. Property tax assistance under this article shall match the amount of the property tax fairness credit received by the applicant, up to a maximum amount of $500.
Property tax fairness credit qualification. In order to receive property tax assistance under this article, an eligible applicant must have received a property tax fairness credit under the provisions of 36 M.R.S.A. § 5219-KK for the property tax year in which assistance is sought. Property taxes for the tax year for which assistance is sought must have been paid in full in order to participate in the program.
Limitation of one payment per homestead. Only one qualifying applicant shall be entitled to payment under this program each year for each homestead. The benefit is personal to the applicant and does not survive the applicant's death.
Effect of payment on property tax abatement. If a property owner seeks a property tax abatement for any year in which assistance has been granted under this article, the amount of the payment made under this article shall be deducted from any amount abated for the tax year in which a payment was made.