[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Madison as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Whereas: Maine Law, 36 M.R.S.A. § 841, Subsection 2, permits the municipal officers "on their own knowledge or on written application (to) make such abatements as they believe reasonable in the real and personal property taxes on all persons who, by reason of infirmity or poverty, are in their judgment unable to contribute to the public charges."
Whereas: The Town desires an alternative to forcing the sale of property in order to collect taxes from those otherwise unable to pay.
Now, therefore, be it resolved the Board of Selectmen hereby outlines the conditions upon which poverty abatements will be granted:
Applicants seeking a poverty abatement have the burden of proving that they are eligible for the abatement; it is not the Selectmen's responsibility to prove that the applicant is not entitled to an abatement.
Persons desiring an abatement must complete an application for abatement of property taxes, and must complete general assistance application forms. Applicants who are requesting abatements for previous tax years must demonstrate no ability to contribute to the public charge, both currently and during the tax year or years for which the abatement is being requested. Persons desiring an abatement will be given the options of applying for general assistance and the poverty abatement process. People who meet annualized general assistance eligibility standards are eligible for a poverty tax abatement if there are no mitigating factors, such as projected income, excess real or personal property, or unreasonable expenses; and, eligibility determination will subtract annualized household income from annual need.
The Board of Selectmen will review applicant's income and expenses. Factors to take into consideration include the applicant's income, both current and projected; assets such as an excessively expensive single vehicle, plus extra cars, recreational vehicles, boats, real estate, etc.; actual expenses which may not be reasonable or necessary and which may be reduced or eliminated; and other sources of income or methods to alleviate their financial distress such as relatives. The Selectmen will evaluate the information presented by the applicant and determine if the applicant has met his/her burden of proof and the eligibility standards. A denial could issue if Selectmen are unable to determine eligibility because the applicant failed to produce necessary documentation. A denial could issue if Selectmen assess a resource (general assistance) is available.
When an application is filed, the Selectmen will ask the applicant to permit them to delay action on the request. The Selectmen prefer to wait to make their final decision until just prior to when the lien forecloses. This policy is based on the Selectmen's hope that the applicant's financial condition will have improved by that time so that the abatement is not needed. If applicant agrees with the proposed delay, he/she should sign and return the "Postponement Notice" within 14 days.
If applicants are clearly poor and have little or no likelihood of any prospects which would enable them to pay the taxes, the Selectmen are obligated to grant an abatement. A partial abatement is appropriate in those cases where the applicant can pay part of the taxes or will be able to pay a portion of the taxes prior to the tax lien expiring. Selectmen may consider abating only fees and interest that would accrue as a result of the lien.
Editor's Note: This order was acknowledged on 4-15-1997 as follows: "We, the Tax Collector and Treasurer of said Town, hereby acknowledge making the aforesaid request and receipt of a copy of the within Order."
We, the Municipal Officers of the Town of Madison, upon request of the Tax Collector and Treasurer of said Town, hereby authorize and direct said Tax Collector and Treasurer, pursuant to 36 M.R.S.A. § 906, to apply any tax payment received from an individual as payment for any property tax against outstanding or delinquent taxes due on said property in chronological order beginning with the oldest unpaid tax bill; provided, however, that no such payment may be applied to any tax for which an abatement application or appeal is pending unless approved in writing by the taxpayer. These payments shall be applied first to lien costs, then interest, then to outstanding principal balance.