Memo to Members of the Joint Committee on Revenue
May 17, 2005
Re: Property Taxes and Senior Citizens
Citizens for Limited Taxation takes second place to no one in its
concern for senior citizens facing unaffordable property taxes. When we
collected signatures on the initiative petition that created Proposition
2½, over twenty-five years ago, we were especially aware of the relief
it would provide seniors and others on fixed incomes. Now, many of the
activists who collected those signatures are seniors themselves or
approaching fixed-income age, and their property taxes are moving to
One of the reasons for this is that communities are passing overrides
without regard to lower- or fixed-income people, of all ages, who cannot
afford them. When we created an override provision, we anticipated that
it would be used for emergencies and unusual circumstances, not for
operating budgets year after year. We could not, in 1979, envision the
unaudited waste built into a School Building Assistance program that
would encourage debt exclusions for schools. At the time, local
officials weren’t giving their local unions extraordinary pension and
health insurance benefits that would become “fixed costs,” paid for by
taxpayers with high fixed costs of their own.
Though focused on senior citizens, we intended to limit property taxes
for all citizens. We are opposed to new bills that give a break to
seniors at the expense of young families with mortgages, family
healthcare expenses, future college tuition and their own retirement
savings. We are especially opposed to
House 2341, which would exclude
seniors from an override in their community. This is clearly meant to
encourage seniors to stay home, thereby helping overrides pass – at
which time the other burdened taxpayers would have to pick up the
seniors’ share of the new higher taxes.
We do support the existing law that allows low-income seniors to defer
their property taxes, and would like to see the interest on this
deferral set at a more reasonable rate if a town chooses to do so.
We have also filed bills, not heard today, that would help all taxpayers
by limiting the number of overrides to one a year, and allowing an
underride in all communities, not just the few that presently have the
ability to place a tax cut on local ballots.
We appreciate the twenty-five years of support that the Legislature, in
general, has shown for Prop 2½, the senior citizens’ best friend.
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