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Date: Fri 19-Feb-1999

Date: Fri 19-Feb-1999

Publication: Bee

Author: STEVEB

Quick Words:

elderly-tax-relief-MacNaughton

Full Text:

Standing Up For The Older Taxpayers

(with photo)

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

the elderly.

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

increasing enrollment.

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

selectmen.

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

Rosenthal said.

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

the plan.

Mr MacNaughton, a retired vice president of a Westport construction company,

said he has received several calls from residents who support his idea.