Panel backs more tax aid

Educational programs, more credits advised

Mayor to introduce legislation

Special programs target low-income residents

March 24, 2003|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

Annapolis should offer tax relief to low-income residents and provide additional education about available tax breaks, a task force will tell the city council at a meeting tonight.

"I just don't think people understand the programs that are out there," said task force member Fred Puddester, a former state budget secretary. "They're somewhat complicated."

The council created the task force to review tax credits for fixed-income residents "in order to offset excessive assessments," the report states. Citywide, assessments on owner-occupied property increased an average of nearly 40 percent during the past three years.

The task force recommends that the city make available to fixed-income residents the same tax credit programs that are available for their state and county taxes.

That would entail the city allowing fixed-income residents to enter two programs - one that provides tax credits and one that allows for seniors' property taxes to be deferred until a house is sold.

The report recommends that the city tailor the deferral program to provide more help with city taxes than it does with state taxes.

Mayor Ellen O. Moyer said she intends to introduce the recommendations as legislation to the council in coming weeks.

"There are a lot of programs that are out there," Moyer said. "We're recommending the city does some of them."

The presentation likely will include discussion of how much the programs could cost the city. Those figures were not available Friday.

The task force intends to issue additional reports about taxes involving rental properties and other issues.

In October, Alderwomen Sheila M. Tolliver and Louise Hammond pushed to further limit the amount an individual's property taxes can go up based on assessment increases.

The state prohibits the taxable assessed value of a home from climbing more than 10 percent a year. Counties and municipalities can impose further limits. In Anne Arundel County, the limit is a 2 percent per year increase.

The Hammond-Tolliver measure, which would have limited the maximum increase in Annapolis from 10 percent to 4 percent per year, was defeated by a 6-3 vote. Those voting against it, including Moyer, expressed concern that it would benefit wealthier homeowners more than other residents, such as those on fixed incomes.

Annapolis residents pay a city property tax rate of 62.4 cents per $100 of taxable assessed value. They also pay property taxes to the county at a rate of 55 cents per $100.

That amounts to a city tax bill of $1,560 per year for a $250,000 home, and a $1,375 county tax bill.

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