2020 Bills

SB 35: Property Tax Relief for Low-Income Seniors

This bill passed the senate with a vote of 25-2, and it passed the house with a vote of 69-1.

Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it is aligned with our principles and merits support.

It’s no secret that property taxes are one of the most hated taxes. Even after you’ve paid for a piece of property in full, the taxes continue—making some people feel like they’re renting their homes from the government in perpetuity.

A key problem with this scenario is how the property tax inevitably increases over time. When a person takes out a loan to buy a home, usually the mortgage payment stays flat, but the property taxes continue going up. And, of course, when a person finishes paying that 30-year loan, the property tax continues to be owed.

The earning potential for an individual in the middle of their career is much different than that of an older person who has been retired since age 65. Income drops and becomes fixed instead of steadily increasing. This leads to homeowners who are “house rich” and “cash poor.”

And this is where property taxes begin to really take their toll.

This year, Senator Gene Davis has a bill that would help provide some relief to low-income seniors on their property taxes. Each county operates a “circuit breaker” program which allows seniors whose income falls below a certain threshold to claim a property tax credit. As property values have steadily increased in the past decade, the real value of the relief from the circuit-breaker program has decreased.

Senate Bill 35 significantly increases the thresholds and credit amounts. The maximum credit allowed will be $1,012 per year and the maximum threshold will increase to just over $37,000 in household income.

This will help more seniors stay in their homes that they worked so hard to purchase. SB 35 also increases the availability of renter’s credits for those who qualify as well.