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Maine lawmakers consider changes to new property tax relief program

The State House in Augusta at dusk on November 9, 2022.
Esta Pratt-Kielley
Maine Public
The State House in Augusta at dusk on November 9, 2022.

Maine lawmakers are winnowing a slate of bills seeking to repeal or overhaul a new property tax program that municipal officials say is financially unsustainable and swamping them with paperwork.

The new program — which allows homeowners ages 65 and older to freeze their property valuation — has been criticized as an administrative burden that requires no means testing to prevent wealthy property owners from cashing in.

The Legislature's taxation committee on Tuesday killed several proposals changing the stabilization law and preserved one bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Rick Bennett, of Oxford.

It proposes tripling the homestead exemption for homeowners 65 and older to $75,000, while sunsetting the new stabilization program at the end of the current property tax year.

But the Taxation Committee has not yet settled on Bennett's bill, which could become the vehicle for additional changes and is expected to draw a hefty budget price tag.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.