Property tax changes take effect April 1

AUGUSTA — The Department of Administrative and Financial Services is reminding members of the public that the new property tax year begins on April 1, 2016. With its arrival comes two important property tax changes for Maine residents.

Starting on April 1, the state of Maine’s homestead exemption will increase from its current value of $10,000 to $15,000. Maine’s homestead exemption reduces a resident homeowner’s property tax burden by shielding a portion of their home’s value from taxation.

For example, a home assessed at $115,000 would pay property taxes on $100,000 of value rather than the home’s fully assessed amount. The value of the homestead exemption will increase to $20,000 in 2017.

To qualify for the homestead exemption, you must be a permanent resident of Maine, a homeowner, the home must be your permanent residence, and you must have owned a home in Maine for the 12 months prior to applying.

The exemption applies to any residential property that is assessed as real property.

Residents already participating in the homestead exemption program will automatically have the increased exemption benefit applied to their property tax bills. Eligible homeowners not currently participating in the program must file an application on or before April 1 with the municipality where their primary residence is located.

“Maine law requires residents to apply for property tax exemptions by April 1 of each year,” said David Heidrich, a spokesman for Maine Revenue Services. “Eligible residents who miss this important deadline may continue to apply for an exemption at any time throughout the year. However, failure to apply in a timely manner will prevent them from realizing the benefit of the exemption until the beginning of the next property tax year.”

Also starting on April 1, Vietnam War veterans who served on active duty from Feb. 28, 1961 through May 7, 1975 become eligible for a property tax exemption of $6,000. Previously, a Vietnam veteran had to have served on active duty for at least 180 days during the period to be eligible for the exemption. Maine Revenue Services’ Property Tax Bulletin No. 7 has been updated to reflect this change.

In order to be eligible for a veterans property tax exemption, an individual must be a qualifying veteran, a resident of the state of Maine and claim the exemption in writing to their municipal assessor. They must also meet at least one of the following conditions:

  1. Be at least 62 years old by April 1 of the year for which exemption is requested.
  2. Receive a pension or compensation from the federal government for total disability, either service- or non-service-connected, as a veteran.
  3. Receive a pension or compensation from the federal government for total disability because of injury or disease incurred or aggravated during active military service in the line of duty.

Residents with questions about their current exemption status or filing a new application should contact their municipal tax assessor or local town office. Many towns and cities have publicly accessible, online databases that indicate the exemptions currently applied to a piece of property.

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