MADISON — The Board of Selectmen has unanimously approved a revised senior tax plan that blends the town’s two current programs and offers new perks for residents.
The vote on the measure, which took a year to finalize, came after the town held a public hearing and information sessions and received approval from the Board of Finance.
“I think we tried to address any oddball situations,” said Austin Hall, director of Beach, Recreation and Senior Services. “”We’ve seen pretty much every curveball that can be thrown at us.”
First Selectman Peggy Lyons said the feedback has been positive and that a letter will be sent to those already participating in the current tax programs explaining the changes. The town also plans to conduct outreach to garner more interest in the new program.
“We have a good strong combined program,” she said. “It’s much more manageable.”
Qualified applicants for the new plan would receive both a tax abatement and tax freeze if they’ve owned a home for 10 years or more in Madison. If a person has owned their home for less than 10 years, they would qualify for the local tax abatement benefit only. Applicants receiving the tax abatement benefit which was higher than the freeze benefit would see no financial impact from the changes.
Income qualifications are based on the area’s median income and are tiered. The revised plan also eliminates the separate married and unmarried structure. Participants who are delinquent in taxes are allowed to participate in the program as well, but it doesn’t forgive owed taxes.
The revised plan outlines a maximum assessed property value of $392,600 to qualify, which will be adjusted annually based on the consumer price index.
Additional perks in the new program include a $500 benefit category to residents in the highest income tier, as well as a $250 longevity bonus benefit for those with 30 years or more of consecutive residency. If a property owner dies, the program would still be available for the surviving spouse.
Additionally, if a participating individual’s income eventually surpasses the maximum qualifying threshold in a given year, they will be forgiven the excess three times during their lifetime.
Another change allows an affidavit to be used to claim medical expenses in place of an IRS Schedule A form.
The new senior tax reduction program allows the town to use up to 1 percent of its operating budget for the program. The program is currently at 0.42 percent; if the program should reach 0.7 percent, the Board of Finance would be required to review it and make recommendations for the program.
The new program officially goes into effect Dec. 12, Lyons said, well ahead of the next tax abatement application period in February.