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To all persons liable for taxation in the Town of Bowdoin, you are hereby notified to provide the Assessor’s a true and perfect list of estates, not by law exempt from taxation in your possession on April 1st. A form reporting such list is included in the Town Report.
Profile of Services
Annually, the Assessor’s Office reviews valuations and makes adjustments to the valuations that include any additions and deletions. The department is also responsible for maintaining accurate records of property ownership. Part of the assessment process includes conducting an annual “ratio study”, which compares the actual selling price of property to assessments. The most recent study conducted for the state valuation purposes indicated the assessed values, on average, to be at approximately 100% of market value.
In addition to these and other duties, the Assessor’s Office is responsible for processing exemptions for veterans and veterans’ widows, of which there were.
The Assessor’s Office is a clearing-house of information such as building and land records, monthly sales transactions and assessment valuation information used by other Town departments, the public, and their representatives (appraisers, brokers, attorneys, surveyors, title companies, etc.). Reports are often generated from the commitment file for use by various town departments, as well as the office being the source of addresses for public hearing notification. Computer reports containing various assessment and ownership information can be purchased for a reasonable fee.
PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS AND RELIEF
PROPERTY TAX STABILIZATION FOR SENIOR CITIZENS
What Is It?
Property Tax Stabilization for Senior Citizens, also known as the Property Tax Stabilization Program (the “Program”), is a State program that allows certain senior-citizen residents to stabilize, or freeze, the property taxes on their homestead. As long as you qualify and file a timely application each year, the tax billed to you for your homestead will be frozen at the amount you were billed in the prior tax year. Eligible residents who move may transfer the fixed tax amount to a new homestead, even if that new homestead is in a different Maine municipality.
To be eligible for the Program, an individual must meet all of the following as of April 1 of the property tax year for which they are requesting stabilization (so for applications due December 1, 2022, qualifications must be met as of April 1, 2023):
- at least 65 years old,
- a permanent resident of Maine,
- have owned a Maine homestead for at least ten years, and
- be eligible for a homestead exemption on the property they are placing in the Program.
If your homestead is owned by more than one individual as joint tenants, only one owner needs to qualify for the Program to participate. There are no income or asset limitations to qualify.
Permanent resident. You must have established a permanent residence in Maine. “Permanent residence” means that place where an individual has a true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment to which the individual, whenever absent, has the intention of returning. An individual may have only one permanent residence at a time and, once a permanent residence is established, that residence is presumed to continue until circumstances indicate otherwise.
Ten-year homestead. You must have owned a homestead in Maine for at least ten years. The ten-year period does not have to be consecutive. A homestead means residential property that you occupy as your permanent residence. A homestead also includes property that is held in a revocable living trust for your benefit or property owned by a cooperative housing corporation if you occupy it as your permanent residence as a qualifying shareholder. It does not include real property used solely for commercial purposes.
Homestead exemption. You must be eligible to receive a homestead exemption on your home. The homestead exemption generally applies only to your permanent residence. Your property tax bill will usually show whether you are already receiving a homestead exemption. If you are unsure whether you qualify for a homestead exemption, contact your local assessor.
How Do I Apply to The Program?
Applications are available at the Maine Revenue Services (“MRS”) website or from your local municipal office. You can also call the Property Tax Division of MRS at (207) 624-5600 to have an application mailed to you. Complete an application and submit it by December 1, with any required proof, to your local municipality. The municipality will review and approve or deny your application.
How Does The Program Work?
Once you have applied and are approved to participate in the Program, the property tax billed to you for the next tax year will be frozen at the amount you were billed in the previous tax year. You must file a new application each year by December 1 in order to maintain that stabilized tax amount.
For example, if you apply by December 1, 2022 and qualify for the Program, the amount of tax billed to you for the April 1, 2023 tax year will be the same as the amount billed to you for the April 1, 2022 tax year. As long as you continue to qualify and to file timely annual renewal applications, the amount you are billed each subsequent year will be frozen at the amount billed for the April 1, 2022 tax year.
The State will reimburse your municipality for the difference between the amount billed to you and the tax that would otherwise be due.
Frequently Asked Questions
1.) Are there income or other limits on who can participate in the Program?
There are no income or asset limitations to participate. As long as you meet the age, residency, and ownership qualifications, and timely file your application, you are eligible.
2.) What happens if I forget to file my renewal application?
Once you are in the Program, if you fail to timely file an application one year, the bill for the next tax year would revert to the “normal” amount of tax. You can apply again the following year, but your new stabilized amount would reset to the missing year’s normal tax amount.
3.) What happens if I move or change my homestead?
If you move to a new homestead in a different municipality, you must request that your old municipality notify your new municipality that you are participating in the Program and your stabilized tax amount. In addition, you will need to file a new application with your new municipality.
4.) What happens if the tax assessed on my homestead goes down?
If the tax assessed for a given year is less than your stabilized amount, you will be billed for the lower amount. If you continue to qualify and file timely applications in subsequent years, your tax will be stabilized at that new, lower amount.
5.) What if I no longer wish to participate in the Program?
The Program requires annual applications in order to continue participating. If you no longer wish to participate, you can simply not file an application and your homestead will revert to being assessed as it would normally be for that (and subsequent) tax years.
Maine Revenue Services
Property Tax Division
P.O. Box 9106
Augusta, ME 04332-9106
Tel: (207) 624-5600
Email: [email protected]
The homestead exemption provides a reduction of up to $25,000 in the value of your home for property tax purposes. To qualify, you must be a permanent resident of Maine, the home must be your permanent residence, you must have owned a home in Maine for the twelve months prior to applying and an application must be filed on or before April 1 with the municipality where the property is located. The exemption applies to any residential property that is assessed as real property. For instance, a mobile home located on a rented lot may qualify for the exemption.
The homestead exemption application is available at most municipalities or you may download the application on the Homestead Exemptions page. The completed application must be submitted to the municipality where you reside. If your home has more than one owner, only one signature is required. Forms filed after April 1 of any year will apply to the next year’s tax assessment.
Once the exemption has been approved, it will remain in effect as long as your ownership and residency status remain unchanged.
The homestead exemption is limited to only your primary residence; camps, vacation homes, and second residences do not qualify. If you also qualify for a veteran or blind exemption, the homestead exemption is in addition to those exemptions.
The $25,000 exemption must be adjusted by the local certified ratio. The local certified ratio is generally the percentage difference between the fair market value of your home and the local assessed value. Since your property taxes are based on the local assessed value, the $25,000 statewide exemption must be adjusted to apply to all property in the state equally. For example, if the local certified ratio in your town is 80%, your homestead exemption is computed in the following manner: $25,000 x .80 = $20,000. Your property value would be reduced by $20,000 by the homestead exemption. If you have further questions regarding the computation of your exemption, please contact your municipality or your local tax assessor. The homestead exemption cannot exceed the total value of your homestead; if the total value of your homestead is $14,000; your homestead exemption cannot exceed $14,000.
If your local assessor determines that you are not entitled to a homestead exemption, the assessor will send you a notice that includes the reasons for denial. You may appeal the denial in writing to the local Board of Assessment Review or to the County Commissioners. Further guidance may be found in Property Tax Bulletin No. 10 and 36 M.R.S. §§ 843 and 844.
RENEWABLE ENERGY INVESTMENT EXEMPTION
This program exempts renewable energy equipment, such as solar panels, from property tax beginning April 1, 2020. Taxpayers must apply for the credit by April 1 of the first year the exemption is requested.
MAINE RESIDENTS PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX PROGRAM
For those taxpayers who qualify, the state will make a partial reimbursement of taxes paid. Forms must be filed by January 31 each year and are available in the Assessor’s Office on or about the middle of August each year or online from the State of Maine Revenue
Any person who was in active service in the armed forces of the United States during a federally recognized war campaign period and, if discharged or retired under honorable conditions, may be eligible for a partial exemption from taxes on their primary residence.
The Veteran must have reached age 62 or must be receiving a pension or compensation from the United States Government for total disability, either service or non-service connected.
Applications forms can be obtained in the Assessor’s Office, or downloaded below, and must be filed with military discharge documentation on or before April 1st of the year it will go into effect.
A veteran who received a federal grant for a specially adapted housing unit may receive $50,000.
An individual who is determined to be legally blind receives $4,000.
BUSINESS EQUIPMENT TAX EXEMPTION
36 M.R.S. §§ 691 – 700-B.
All of the above exemptions require completion of an application to the local town office where the property is located. Exemption claims may require additional information to support the claim for exemption, and must be delivered to the Assessor’s office no later than April 1.
AVAILABLE PUBLICATIONS AND GENERAL INFORMATION
- Bureau of Taxation Bulletins
- Board of Assessment Review Rules and Procedures
- MMA’s A Homeowner’s Guide to the Property Tax
- Business Equipment Tax Rebate information
- Personal Property Declaration Forms
- Billing address-change forms
The Assessor’s Office welcomes all taxpayers to visit or call with any questions pertaining to real estate assessments, or further information on any of the assistance programs.