Montville plans Sept. 8 hearing on tax exemptions for veterans

Montville - The Town Council will hold a hearing Monday, Sept. 8, at 6:30 p.m. on a proposal to expand the range of incomes eligible for tax exemptions extended to veterans.

The town currently offers veterans within certain income restrictions a property tax exemption on up to $10,000 of taxable property. The exemption applies to taxes on automobiles and houses, according to town Assessor Lucy Beit, and 129 veterans receive exemptions, according to Finance Director Terry Hart.

"It really didn't help enough veterans," said Town Councilor Billy Caron, who worked on the proposal.

"They've served, they've given their time to our country and they deserve to get as much as we can give them," he later added.

Hart said that the town currently offers the exemptions to single veterans with incomes of $34,100 or less and married veterans with maximum incomes of $41,600, filed jointly with spouse.

The numbers reflect what the state Office of Police and Management said are the state's current maximum incomes permitted to receive the property tax breaks. Office spokesman Gian-Carl Casa said the thresholds may be adjusted annually.

The town is considering extending the tax break to veterans who make up to 25 percent more than the state-set maximum incomes according to the proposed ordinance, bringing eligible incomes to $42,625 for single veterans and $52,000 for married veterans filing jointly, according to Hart.

Hart said the town was being cautious and that the goal was to expand the availability of the tax exemption without drastically decreasing tax revenue. The town is not sure how many more people would opt into the program should it expand eligibility, according to Hart, but state law allows towns to exceed the state-set maximum incomes by $25,000.

Under the current provisions, about $37,000 in tax revenue is lost through the exemption, assuming all who use the program have at least $10,000 worth of property to tax. Veterans who receive the exemptions save up to roughly $300 per year on taxes.

"I think if we're helping veterans, I don't know how you really put a value on that," said Hart.

By setting the maximum incomes at percentages above state-set maximums, Hart said the town hopes to avoid having to rewrite the ordinance again in the future.

Montville Housing Authority Executive Director Carol Lathrop said she has encountered a few veterans in the town's elderly housing complexes who are interested in the exemptions but do not qualify.

The hearing is slated to precede the Town Council's regular meeting in Town Hall. Council Chairman Joseph Jaskiewicz said the council may vote at the meeting on expanding the eligible pool for the tax exemptions.

Montville increased the amount of the maximum property tax to be exempted from $1,000 to $10,000 in 2012.

t.townsend@theday.com
Twitter: @ConnecticuTess

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