Monday, July 17, 2006

DeStefano Proposes Freezing Property Taxes for Seniors

This just in...
Saying it’s time to help ease the burden of rising property taxes for our seniors, John DeStefano – Democratic candidate for governor – is announcing a plan to freeze property tax rates for seniors and use a new millionaire’s tax to pay for it.
...
The tax freeze would take effect on the 2007 property tax bills and affect approximately 150,000 senior households who meet income eligibility requirements. (DeStefano)

Wait. I thought taxing the income of the rich was going to pay for education? Is this in addition to that tax?

Setting that aside, it seems like a good idea on the face of it. How will it work?

· Seniors 65 and older whose annual income is $46,000 or less for a single person or $54,000 or less for a couple living together, are eligible to use the program. Income limits would be adjusted annually for inflation.

· Towns will be reimbursed 100% for the revenue lost as a result of the tax freeze.

· Seniors will apply one time to their town assessor to be eligible for the tax freeze. Every year thereafter the assessor will require certification with the tax bill that the senior(s) remain eligible.

· At the sale of the house, or the death of the owner occupant, the tax freeze will end. Should a surviving spouse over the age of 62 acquire the house through the death of the homeowner, the tax freeze will continue.

· Seniors can continue to use any existing tax benefits including the “circuit breaker.”(DeStefano)

Reimbursing towns for the lost revenue... wait. Weren't towns promised reimbursement for lost revenue for some other tax cut proposal? And wasn't that one of the sticking points-- municipalities feeling they wouldn't see a full reimbursment?

Still, it's certainly not a bad idea, and it's a step in the right direction. It isn't the sort of radical property tax reform I was half-expecting DeStefano to come out with, but it would be a benefit to poorer seniors.

Source

"DeStefano announces property tax freeze for seniors." DeStefano for Connecticut. Press Release, 17 July, 2006.

30 comments:

bluecoat said...

CT's reliance on the real estate property tax is outdated and ridiculous - and Gabe did a great post on this a few weeks back - but this social engineering by JDS is certainly not my cup of bananas...as i have said in the past JDS understands the challenges facing the state better than DM and MJR but his solutions don't do anything for me..

GMR said...

Why just seniors with lower incomes? Why not everyone with lower incomes?

Won't this end up acting a lot like Prop 13 in California? By freezing their tax rates, seniors will not have an incentive to downsize to a smaller house or condo when the kids move away, because the tax on the new smaller unit in the same town may be considerably higher.

BRubenstein said...

GMR...nor will people fix their home if they have that kind of freeze ( since their is no incentive to seel or otherwise transfer their home) This propsal will tend to reduce jobs in the state ( less folks fixing their homes) and since there would be less transfers...less home building( and less construction jobs)..

If he wants to help the elderly( and we all want to) then JDS would be better off giving them additional tax credits off their inclome...the effect would be the same without the additional loss of jobs.

Anonymous said...

What a terrible idea. Property taxes in CT are out of control. At least JDS is talking about the issue. But he should be ashamed for suggesting this stupid idea. It's shameless pandering to the "senior vote."

Our tax system needs overhaul, not tinkering in an attempt to buy the votes of one demographic or another.

How about being brave JDS? Propose something like regionalizing education funding, and paying for it out of the general fund. Local property taxes are the most inequitable, unaffordable, dumb-a** source of education funding imaginable. CT is one of the last remaining states that hasn't figured this out.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that DeStefano hatches these policy pearls while sitting on the toilet?

Didn't we conclude months ago that the most important quality of the Democratic nominee was 'ability to defeat Jodi Rell?'

bluecoat said...

I don't like the idea but it is hardly shameless; the Town of Fairfield has a major senior tax releif program not unlike JDS's that was pushed though by the Republicans against the wishes if Democrat First Selectman Flatto - until Flatto saw it was a winner politically and to a limited exent politicalaly - even former RTM Democrat and now state rep. Tom Drew jumped on the band wagon and helped write the ordinance and has been beating his chest about it ever since. Unfortunately, it's a band-aid solution as there are better and more ways to help keep senior citizens and other people without school age kids of all stripes in their homes -

bluecoat said...

and I should add that newly minted Westport First Selectman Joseloff is worknig on the same thing and I don't see any Republicans or even Farrell types (Malloy's backer) saying no....right problem but wrong solution....

disgruntled_republican said...

Call it whatever you want but it is election year politics...just as Anon 1:46 says...and still ignores the bigger issue or property tax reform.

bluecoat said...

Here is the fairfieldSenior & Totally DISABLED Tax Relief that folks have touted as the most generous in the state - Flatto is an JDS endorser BTW and Drew is flip/flopping Malloy endorser just for info sake

TrueBlueCT said...

Obviously no one sniping at DeStefano is a fixed-income senior!

Knowing the travails of low income seniors, this proposal is a great start. Tax increases have been particularly brutal to seniors in CT's beach communities where many tax bills have more than doubled.

Don't fix the tax bills, but instead cap increases at no more than inflation, (or annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustments.)

disgruntled_republican said...

Fair enough TrueBlue but that isn't what he propossed now is it? The fact is it is another far-fetched idea JDS has to gain himself attention and votes that really isn't going to have a lick of impact on the average CT taxpayer. It affects 2 small portions of the population - the rich and the seniors. And still ignores the underlying need for fundamental tax reform....

bluecoat said...

DG: it also ignores the fact that government spending is out of control at the state and municipal levels....every time somebody wants something the answer is in the taxpayers checkbook;we need better management and total tax reform acroos th board;;;; we shant have one without the other;;;but I guess it depends on who is trying to get what votes...

GMR said...

Anonymous210: I must agree that JDS seems to just say anything. I'm a Republican, and I've often heard there's little difference between Malloy and JDS. I don't look at their websites or follow the race much outside of here. But I must admit that based on what I've read here, JDS seems to have a new crazy scheme about every other day. Maybe Malloy has somke crazy schemes too, but I haven't seen them yet.

I mean, according to JDS, we're going to be running a commuter rail along I-84, widening 95 from Branford to the RI border, more education funding by taxing all those people who make over $500K and then eliminating the property tax except that we're going to eliminate the property tax for seniors or freeze it and then the state is going to reimburse the towns and we're not going to do away with the car tax because then Tommy Hilfiger will benefit but maybe we'll cut the property tax on cars for certain old people and he's going to get more parking at metro north stations and so on.

Anonymous said...

My god who is writing policy for DeStefano since Jacklin bailed? First we get a transportation package that is literally just a wish list of "hey wouldnt it be great if we could do this" ideas with zero substantiation or cost details. Now its a pandering, piece-meal stab at the senior vote. My guess is that most seniors have been voting long enough to see through ploys like this by now.

Wrath of Conn said...

GMR -

Yeah, this is basically the "throw as much sh*t against the wall and see what sticks" approach to campaigning. We've all seen it before.

Don Pesci said...

"Wait. I thought taxing the income of the rich was going to pay for education? Is this in addition to that tax?" GK

Silly Kahn, it's gonna pay for EVERYTHING.

Anonymous said...

So if I live in CT another 20 years I might get a tax break?

Keeping young families is the economic challenge for CT, not seniors who vote in droves or latte sipping Yalie students

All JDS has proposed for us is to bust our zoning codes for subsidizied housing so we lose property values

Anonymous said...

"Tax increases have been particularly brutal to seniors in CT's beach communities"

So inland folks need to subsidize people who can;t afford their view of LI Sound?

We've come a long way from the New Deal

TrueBlueCT said...

7:07--

That's just silly. What has happened is that a good bit of out-of-state money has come into CT to buy second homes along the shore.

This has skewed home sales up wildly in places like Clinton, Branford, Milfod, etc.

Low income seniors ought not to be chased out of their homes by the doubling of property tax bills.

Anonymous said...

no, what is silly is making a chi-chi zip code a lifetime entitlement at the expense of other taxpayers

GMR said...

Old people have their property tax bills go up so much because their property has appreciated. I wouldn't be against letting seniors pay their taxes at their old fixed rate, with the difference, plus interest, to be paid when they sold their house.

This way, seniors wouldn't be burdened with the extra payment, but other residents wouldn't be subsidizing them either. It would also do away with the distortions that come into play when you tax people in the town differently based on their "preferred" status.

Anonymous said...

GMR's idea has merit. It's like a reverse mortgage

It just isn't crass enough for this campaign, I fear

Chris MC said...

GMR makes a good point. Connect the tax to the ability to pay. That is a soundly progressive principle.

Hmm, what Endorsed Democratic Party Candidate for Governor thinks that way?

GMR said...

Chris MC: I proposed letting seniors defer their property taxes until they sell their house, and they'd also be charged interest.

Property taxes are still indexed to the property's value. I don't see why seniors who own property should get a break, but seniors who rent should not.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if most of these people talk to seniors, it sounds like they don't. Most seniors I talk to say property taxes are one of their biggest burdens. A lot of them do have a hard time paying these taxes and a freeze would help them. Some people call it pandering while at the same time saying this effects barely any people. Well if it effects only just a few voters maybe it's not so much pandering, but actually a good idea. It's about time we gave back to a generation that has given us so much and stop pricing them out of their livelihood. I'd like to see most of you people live on a senior's fixed income and then tell me this is a bad idea.

bluecoat said...

just because property values have gone up in the beach communities - and I live in one near the beach - doesn't mean our taxes had to go up. Our taxes went up because the politicains spent more money.....if all people buying homes in beach communities are buying them as a second home as one noted anonoymous economist has noted here then that should help bring local property taxes down since second home people aren't demanding as much services as first home people - like public education. I should aslo add that in one stae where I have done businness non-owner occupied property is taxed at a higher rate than owner occupied stuff..

disgruntled_republican said...

Anon 1057:

All I have said is that this is not the root of the problem, as bluecoat has said as well. The problem is spending and the need for fundamental property tax reform. I recognize that seniors have trouble paying their tax bills...

I am not yet opposed to this tax freeze but to make it a blanket tax policy is a horrible idea. And to base on income is as well. It should be needs based not income based...the 2 are not necessarily the same.

Beyond that, perhaps we need to hold our elected officials accountable with our money...now there's an idea, hmm?

disgruntled_republican said...

bluecoat-

I think you hit the nail on the head with your last comment...bravo!

bluecoat said...

DG: I moved to CT from PA right when the state income tax went in to effect here - I didn't like it but I understood it as PA was once a farm state too and raised money from the property tax but then moved away from relying on it for more than local services - and CT's car tax came a as hocking pain in the butt too; but in any event in PA municipalites/counties can't tax your car but they can tax a combination of your real property and your income where earned and where you live - up to a max of 1% which they rarely do - if you think about it this is one way to address needed proerty tax reform of which you speak although probably not popular it keeps the taxation control local; but it has to be met with fiscal restraint and an end to the notion that quality education is expensive education...and an end to the big spending Incumebents in Hartford who think that a budget that paces the rate of inflation is a winner economically.

Chris MC said...

GMR -
[...] I don't see why seniors who own property should get a break, but seniors who rent should not.
Because they don't own property.

So, you'd propose an equivalent relief for rentors, but what?