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New tax relief program aids disabled, elderly

KENT — A new program to assist elderly and disabled home­owners with their real estate taxes was approved at a town meeting on March 1. About 24 people, including press, attended the meeting.First Selectman Bruce Adams publicly thanked the committee, formed about six months ago, that put the plan together. Adams said the tax relief program was the brainchild of former Selectman George Jacobsen. The committee was chaired by Bill Bachrach and members included Carol McCann, Wendy Murphy, Doris Palmer and Jim Samartini. The first selectman also said town Tax Collector Deborah Devaux and town Assessor Patricia Braislin provided significant input during the process.The committee reviewed similar ordinances from the Connecticut towns of Coventry, East Lyme, Mansfield, Middlefield, Portland, Trumbull and Columbia. Kent’s proposed ordinance will most closely resemble Columbia’s.Paul Dooley was elected moderator. Kent resident and Board of Finance member Ed Epstein made a motion to waive the reading of the proposed ordinance. That motion was approved.A motion was made to adopt the proposed ordinance and it was approved by the meeting.The program will provide a tax deferral on real estate taxes for some disabled and elderly homeowners. To qualify, a homeowner, or his or her spouse, must be 65 years of age or older at the close of the preceding calendar year; or be 60 years of age and the non-remarried, surviving spouse of the taxpayer who received benefits under the ordinance; be under 65 years of age and receiving permanent total disability benefits under Social Security regulations; be enrolled in the state of Connecticut Circuit Breaker program;and have been a Kent resident for one year before applying for a tax deferral.Applicants for tax deferral will also have to be the owner of record of real property in Kent or liable for the payment of property taxes. The tax deferral will apply only to the residence, the basic building lot and improvements on the lot on which the residence is located. The maximum size of the lot should be 5 acres.The Kent property must be the applicants’ principal residence, meaning it is lived in for more than 183 days each calendar year. At the time of application for tax deferral, the applicant must not be delinquent in the payment of real property taxes, personal property taxes or motor vehicle taxes for any prior tax year.Kent residents wishing to apply for tax deferral under this program must do so at the assessor’s office between Feb. 1 and May 1 of each year.The allowed tax deferral can be equal to 100 percent of the real estate tax owed, up to a $5,000 maximum per year, but cumulatively not more than 75 percent of the property’s assessed value.All deferred taxes have to be reimbursed to the town within one year of the death of the recipient. There will be an interest charge of 5 percent annually.

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