Republican bill would increase property tax credit for seniors to $750 – Town Square Delaware LIVE

a small clock tower in front of a house

A Republican-backed bill to nearly double the tax relief for senior homeowners is pending action in the Delaware House of Representatives.

House Bill 287sponsored by Rep. Kevin Hensley, R-Odessa, would increase the property tax credit for high schools to a maximum of $750 per year.

Currently, homeowners aged 65 and over are eligible for a 50% tax credit on regular school property taxes up to $400. The credit can only be used against property taxes on a homeowner’s primary residence.

Until 2017, the maximum credit amount was $500. After facing a large budget deficit, lawmakers cut the appropriation by 20%. This cut has been included in every subsequent budget despite the strong rebound in state revenues.

“State revenues are up, and that’s not including the massive amount of relief funds we’ve received from the federal government,” Hensley said. “We have also smartly put money aside for bad weather and reserve accounts to take appropriate precautions for the future. Now, I believe the state has an obligation to share its good fortune with its citizens.

No Democrats have signed on to co-sponsor the bill. Attempts to immediately reach the House Democratic Caucus for comment were unsuccessful.

The bill joins a growing package of tax cuts proposed by Republicans after Delaware’s nonpartisan Economic and Financial Advisory Council, or DEFAC, announced it expects the state to raise about $820 million from more than planned.

In response, Republicans have introduced legislation to reduce Delaware income tax, gross receipts tax, and corporation tax; reduce property transfer taxes; adjust taxes with increases in the cost of living and provide a tax credit for low-income Delaware people.

“Because of their lifetime contributions, no group of citizens has collectively paid more taxes than our elders,” Hensley said. “At a time when the state is teeming with cash, there is no excuse not to provide modest tax relief to our elderly population, many of whom now live on fixed incomes.”

Finance Secretary Rick Geisenberger said if lawmakers decide to increase the appropriation to a maximum of $750, they will need to find a way to fund that expense in the state budget.

“At the end of the day, it’s not a tax cut,” Geisenberger said. “What it is is a budget expense because the way it works is school districts still get the money – it just goes out into state coffers, rather than government coffers. taxpayers.”

“Finally, it’s paid off,” he continued. “That will have to be paid for through income taxes, property taxes or some other form of taxation, because the expenses don’t go away.”

A separate bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Ramone, R-Pike Creek South, would restore the senior tax credit to a maximum of $500 before 2017. A tax memo completed last year found that the proposed law would bring more than $4.2 million annually to eligible Delaware seniors.

Geisenberger noted that the $4.2 million estimate should be updated with new numbers.

That bill — House Bill 108 — won broad bipartisan support. Among the long list of sponsors and co-sponsors are ten Republicans and five Democrats.

The analysis of the amount of money that will be withheld by taxpayers under the Hensley bill is not yet complete.

When asked if he thought either of the bills should pass the General Assembly, Geisenberger replied, “If it’s something we supported, we would have put in our budget”.

Both measures are pending action in the House Administration Committee.

Penny D. Jackson