Sunday, May 17, 2009

Taxes and Tax Breaks

A committee studying the idea of giving Putnam County senior citizens a freeze on their property taxes will be meeting Monday night to further discuss the impact that doing so would have on the rest of the county's taxpayers. Legislation was passed a couple of years ago in the General Assembly that allowed individual counties to decide whether or not seniors should be eligible for a tax freeze, but so far only a few counties have chosen to do so. For most, according to the Tennessee County Services Association, it's an issue of how much revenue they would lose over the long-term and where that lost revenue could be made up in other parts of the budget. The decision is also made more difficult this year because sales tax revenues are down from where they were expected to be, and that puts more pressure on the property tax. Proponents of the tax freeze argue that many seniors are on a fixed income and cannot afford the increased tax bill brought on by either an increase in the value of their homes or by a hike in the property tax rate. Opponents say those retirees who are actually in need of a tax break already get one from the state and county, but must meet certain income eligibility guidelines to qualify.