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Tax Deferment for Seniors Proposed

The Barrington Town Council sends the proposal to the town manager for more detail and to determine its impact.

A proposed tax-deferment plan for Barrington seniors, especially those on fixed incomes, was presented to the Town Council Monday night, Dec. 17.

The proposal was sent to Town Manager Peter DeAngelis Jr. and other town officials to come back with a more detailed plan and a determination of its impact. 

“Barrington’s comprehensive plan is replete with references to wanting to keep seniors in their homes,” said Margaret Kane, chair of the Senior Services Advisory Board, who presented the proposal. “It’s a small step, a beginning.”

The program as drafted would defer the tax increase after a person turns 65, not the entire tax.  It would defer the property tax, Kane said, to “either the death of a resident or the sale of the property.”

The tax deferment also would go only to seniors whose total household income was below 80 percent of Barrington’s median household income. Right now, Barrington’s median income is $94,300, making seniors with incomes less than $75,440 eligible for the deferment.

Taxes deferred would earn interest for the town, Kane said. Residents would have to present a sworn affidavit of their incomes when they elect to enter the tax-deferment program.

Kane said at least one other East Bay town has a similar program.

“Bristol’s is a program we can model,” she said. “They have experience with the program we can draw on.”

Seniors already receive two other tax benefits: the senior tax exemption and the so-called “circuit-breaker.”

The former gives a flat exemption of $18,400 on income if you are 65 or older. The latter gives a tax credit of $525 to $1,500 depending on a Barrington senior’s income.

Town Council Vice President Kate Weymouth asked if the tax deferment would replace one of these programs or provide a third tax break.

“For me, I think it should be replacing one of the others,” she said, although she favors tax breaks for seniors on fixed incomes to help them stay in their homes.

Town Councilor Ann Strong asked why the tax deferment would go to residents 65 or older.

“Why not 55 or 70?” she said.

“I think we can discuss it,” said Kane.

DeAngelis said he would report back to the Town Council in March with a report that includes the impact on the town of a tax deferment.

Gary Morse December 18, 2012 at 03:00 PM
It is of interest to explain how a figure of $75,440 in income level was arrived at. Under RI Law, and in our town ordinances, affordable housing property tax breaks are provided to those earning as much as 120% of the area median income, being approximately $80,000. These affordable property tax breaks are for a minimum of 30 years, and to date, provided largely to new residents coming into town for the first time. Our seniors deserve at least something close that will allow them to keep up with the towns ever increasing property tax burden? Thus the program was modeled on similar income criteria providing similar benefit. (note - those in affordable housing don't have to pay back the benefit even if they cash in later on an inflated sale, while the seniors do have to ultimately pay their deferred taxes). Whether any of this is fair to all residents is not the point at this moment. It is a fact that as a matter of public policy, our leaders have decided it is best to now address ability to pay in our property tax system. This is just one consequence in our evolving property taxation policies.
Lorraine F December 18, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Wait one darn minute here. Mr. DeAngelis said: "he would report back to the Town Council in March with a report that includes the impact on the town of a tax deferment." What about the impact to the town on the affordable housing tax breaks? Why has that been left off the radar since the time when the town decided to start handing out property tax breaks to Sweetbriar? Am I wrong about this but are affordable housing policies a hands-off issue, while long term residents are scrutinized with a financial magnifying glass. Is the world upside down?

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