Date: Fri 19-Feb-1999
Standing Up For The Older Taxpayers
BY STEVE BIGHAM
Jim MacNaughton is a lot like many other retired Newtown residents. He has
paid off his house and is now ready to relax as he enjoys his golden years.
But local taxes keep rising and they continue to be a burden, particularly for
On Tuesday, the Poverty Hollow Road resident went before the Board of
Selectmen to propose a tax relief program for the elderly in town. Many of
Newtown's elders have paid off their mortgages, but are unable to afford to
remain in their homes due to the taxes, he said.
"I just think it would be nice to have some sort of a tax relief plan for the
elderly here in town," he said. "The state has a plan but it only puts a few
extra dollars in your pocket."
Mr MacNaughton is alarmed at the potential spending taking place in the Board
of Education's efforts to keep the school system in alignment with the
As Mr MacNaughton points out, tax relief plans for municipalities are nothing
new, and he used Redding and Ridgefield as examples. Both have had programs in
place since the mid 1970s. Redding's plan takes the first $50,000 value of the
assessment and multiplies it by the current mill rate. The resulting amount is
then deducted from the amount of taxes due. All senior citizens are eligible
to take advantage of the plan, regardless of income.
In Ridgefield, residents 65 and over who have lived in their home for at least
one year are eligible for a $700 deduction in their tax bill. A second plan
allows elderly residents to defer paying 100 percent of their taxes until they
sell their house or die. Under this plan, residents cannot have an annual
income of over $40,000.
"A tax relief that I propose would give substantial relief to our senior
population, making living in our fine town less of a monetary burden
regardless of the school expansion program," Mr MacNaughton told the
First Selectman Herb Rosenthal said the plan made sense to him.
"I'm in favor of some kind of tax relief for senior citizens. It is important
to keep them here. We certainly don't want to drive them out due to taxes," Mr
Elderly residents use fewer services than those residents with children.
Newtown does currently offer a $250 tax credit for those citizens 65 and over.
There are some income qualifications attached to that.
State Tax Help
According to Tax Collector Carol Mahoney, the state's tax relief program is
handled through Newtown's assessor's office (which is reimbursed by Hartford)
and gives a tax credit from 10 to 40 percent off senior citizens' tax bills
depending upon their income. For the 1999-2000 fiscal year the income limit
for a single person is $23,600 and $28,900 for a married person. Every town in
the state offers this program, Mrs Mahoney said.
The Board of Selectmen is expected to take a closer look at Mr MacNaughton's
proposal at its next meeting. Mr Rosenthal plans to form a committee to study
Mr MacNaughton, a retired vice president of a Westport construction company,
said he has received several calls from residents who support his idea.