Governor Janet Mills’ well-intentioned proposal – to provide “repayable loans” to cover the annual property tax bills of certain residents aged 65 and over, permanently disabled or others unable to pay their property taxes – ignores that “forgivable loans” undermine the provisions of a Maine law that exists and acts as a “safety net” for those who are unable to pay all or part of their property taxes due low income, poverty, infirmity, handicap or other hardship, without the need to repay everything.
The purpose and intention of SARM Title 36, Property Taxes, Cities and Townswhich allows “property tax abatement”, prevents towns and villages from forcing the sale or seizure of properties, while also not collecting property taxes from those who are unable to pay.
Some local governments don’t pay much attention to Maine’s abatement law since “forgivable loans” favor cities and towns, not residents who need help with their property taxes, who may otherwise often be reduced under the provisions of Maine law that is already in place, compared to “loans” that must be repaid at some point.
Many property taxpayers may not be aware of Maine’s abatement law; or maybe they don’t know the meaning of the word “reduction”, which is defined as “the ending, reduction or lessening of something” – an example being property taxes which can be eliminated by being “reduced”, unlike “repayable loans”.
Dr. Louis Talarico II, New Gloucester
Cartoon of Saturday February 19