Deadline looms for Cumberland seniors seeking tax break

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CUMBERLAND — Eligible residents who are 62 and older have until Aug. 1 to apply for a new property tax assistance program.

The town-based program, approved by the Town Council last December, was triggered after a poll of residents by the town’s Aging in Place Committee showed that “overwhelmingly, the No. 1 response by seniors was … property tax relief,” Town Manager Bill Shane said at the time.

People eligible for the program must reside in Cumberland, have lived in town at least a decade, and have a combined household income of no more than $69,000.

Senior homeowners who have an income of $46,259 or less might be able to receive up to $750 in assistance.

Surplus funds from the fiscal 2016 budget, which concluded June 30, are being brought used for tax relief for those seniors who qualify. But while $118,000 is available, not all of it will definitely be used for the program, Tom Gruber, the Town Council’s liaison to the Aging in Place Committee, said in a July 13 interview.

Gruber said the size of benefits will depend on how many people apply

As of last week, 52 had, the councilor said, adding that “usually we’d get about 80 in the past, when we had the senior Circuit Breaker program.”

Prior to the state’s abolition three years ago of the Circuit Breaker program, which was open to all qualifying taxpayers, about $100,000 was refunded to Cumberland seniors who needed the help, according to Shane. Through that program’s replacement, the Property Tax Fairness Credit, only about $10,000 went to local seniors, he noted.

And with the income limit being a little more than $40,000, “most of our seniors didn’t qualify for much there,” Shane added.

Gruber described the effort as one piece of a much larger endeavor.

“I think there’s more that we can do for tax relief, but one step at a time,” he said.

Information and the program application are on the town website at cumberlandmaine.com. Applications can also be found in the lobby at Town Hall, 290 Tuttle Road.

Applicants are asked to contact administrative assistant Annemarie Dawson at 829-2205 after completing the application, to schedule a meeting to complete the process. Eligible seniors must provide a 2015 tax return and a form of identification. Renters must also provide a copy of their lease.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Cumberland residents 62 or older who qualify for the town’s new tax relief program have until Aug. 1 to apply.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.