Fortunato continues tax-relief efforts for seniors


OLYMPIA… State Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, is keeping his promise to some of the state’s most vulnerable.

“Seniors and disabled people are particularly affected by rising property taxes and health-care costs – and that was before the economic uncertainty related to COVID-19,” said Fortunato. “This issue is one that I hear about at almost every town hall.”

The focus of Fortunato’s three property tax reduction bills filed this session are to help expand access to existing state programs for those most in need.

“The ‘age wave’ is here and its effects are going to be significant,” Fortunato said. “Seniors have worked all their lives and saved for retirement, only to be hit with property and other tax increases that severely hurt when on a fixed income. I believe that at some point in time you have paid enough property taxes and under this legislation, that time is your 75th birthday.”

Senate Bill 5289, would exempt people 75 and older from paying property taxes on their primary residence.

Existing senior and disabled property tax programs are based on income qualifications, with a combined income limit of $40,000 or less per household. Senate Bill 5290 would change how eligibility is determined for a property-tax reduction. Under the bill, if one member meets the eligibility requirements, the household would qualify.

“A single person making $40,000 a year after deductions may be able to live on that, but a couple cannot. This means that a couple could be eligible for the deduction if one of their incomes is $40,000 or less.”

The third proposal, Senate Bill 5305, has bipartisan support and would permit applicants to deduct Medicare supplemental insurance premiums from their income calculations to qualify for property-tax programs.

“Seniors deserve every bit of help the state can provide to make their later years comfortable,” added Fortunato. “Property values are rising, the cost of everything is going up, and the state’s tax policies aren’t making it easier to live in this state. I’m hoping at least one of these proposals will pass so that seniors and disabled residents can stay in their homes, hopefully easing their financial burdens.”

All three bills have been referred to the Senate’s budget committee (Ways and Means) and are awaiting public hearings.