NEWS

Revaluation won’t impact tax exemptions

By JOHN HOWELL
Posted 6/15/23

Depending on how you look at it, there’s some good news and some bad news to report from the tax front.

The good news for those eligible for tax exemptions is that the revaluation has not …

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NEWS

Revaluation won’t impact tax exemptions

Posted

Depending on how you look at it, there’s some good news and some bad news to report from the tax front.

The good news for those eligible for tax exemptions is that the revaluation has not impacted the dollar amount of the exemption whether you are a senior citizen, veteran, disabled, on the circuit breaker or enlisted in a number of other programs.

Of course, which is no news to those who have followed City Council approval of the mayor’s budget, the bad news is that taxes are going up. And while paying taxes is a pain, as of Friday it appears the city is on schedule to have the tax bills in the mail by mid-June with the first quarterly payment due July 17.

Also, as of Friday the city closed the period for property owners to appeal valuations that were mailed out May 14. The valuations as of Dec. 31, 2022 reflected a 30 percent growth in residential values and an 11 percent growth in commercial values.

City Tax Assessor Neal Dupuis said Vision Government Solutions, the firm that conducted the revaluation, heard a total of 1,100 resident and commercial appeals. He noted that shouldn’t be equated to the actual number of property appeals since some taxpayers own more than one property. Letters in response to appeals are expected to be in the mail this month. If property owners remain unsatisfied with the findings, they can appeal to the Board of Tax Review, but in the meantime are expected to pay taxes based on the valuation set.

If a taxpayer has been receiving an exemption – the most common is the senior exemption for property owners who must be 65 years old by Dec. 31, 2022 – they will continue receiving that exemption, which is $415.20 to be removed from their tax bill. Those who have just turned 65 or haven’t previously received the exemption should apply at the assessor’s office in the Saw Tooth Annex in Apponaug.

Prior to the elimination of the car tax, taxpayers had the option of applying the exemption to either their real estate or motor vehicle bill. At that time the exemption was applied to the assessment. As the motor vehicle tax rate of $34.60 was higher than the real estate tax, a majority of exemptions were applied to motor vehicle taxes.

Dupuis explained in establishing a set dollar amount, rather than adjusting the assessed valuation, the former $34.60 motor vehicle rate was used.

Overall, Dupuis said, the city issues about 10,000 tax exemptions of which 7,700 are senior exemptions. The total property value of the exemptions – not the tax revenue the city would have otherwise received – he put at $192 million.

Other  personal real estate exemptions and the amounts are: Veteran, $138.40; veteran 100 percent disabled service connected, $346; paraplegic GI, $692; POW, $519; Gold Star parent, $207.60; and Blind, $622.80.

In addition, the city offers a circuit breaker program providing a $600 to $1,000 deduction in real estate taxes that must be annually applied for. To be eligible taxpayers must be 65 years old by Dec. 31, 2022or 100 percent disabled per SSA or the VA; a Warwick resident for the past five years; submit disability award letter from SSA or VA and submit income forms listing all funds received by all occupants.

Exemptions of $1,000

The circuit breaker is designed to assist low income property owners who might otherwise not be able to pay their taxes and face losing their properties for payment. Dupuis feels eligibility should also consider a taxpayer’s total assets, exclusive of property value. As an example he cites a homeowner who is living off Social Security and meets the income eligibility requirements, yet has sizeable savings and or a portfolio of stocks and bonds.

The amount of the circuit breaker exemption is based on annual income. To be eligible for the $1,000 exemption the taxpayer can make not more than $18,016.The tax credit drops from there to $600 for taxpayers making no more than $27 023.

“This program is for people who can’t afford it (taxes),” he said.  He said there has been some talk of a commission review of exemptions, which could “clear up some of these ambiguities.”

Dupuis notes that the tax revenues lost by exemptions are “picked up by the rest of the taxpayers” and that’s why he feels they should be applied “to people who truly need it.”

There is yet another exemption: a tax freeze at the current assessment and tax rate that is only available on a single-family house or condominium. To qualify the head of household must be 100 percent disabled or SSA or VA and unable to work or 70 years old or older and have an annual household income under $7,500 for a single or $15,000 formarried couple.

reval, tax, exemptions

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