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Public Advocate Calls For Exempting Low-Income Mainers From Electricity Tax

State Public Advocate Barry Hobbins has submitted legislation that would exempt low-income Mainers from the sales tax on electricity.

The first 750 kilowatt hours of electricity used at a residence is already exempt from the state’s 5 percent sales tax. Hobbins is asking the Legislature to consider exempting all electricity sales to low-income Mainers who are eligible for LIHEAP — the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program — or who are on a payment plan with their utility.

“This would maximize the value of the benefit from subsidies that are provided to those who qualify for such programs as the low income assistance program and the arrearage management program,” he says.

Hobbins says he does not yet have a price tag for the bill, but acknowledges that it’s likely to cost more than the state can afford right now because of the pandemic. Still, he says he believes the issue should be explored.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.