The opportunity to reduce town taxes by $1,040 a year remains open to Ridgefielders who turned 65 in 2019 or earlier.

Taxpyers who qualify but aren’t yet signed up for the town’s $1,040-per-year senior tax credit have been given until July 15 to file and receive the credit on their 2019-20 Ridgefield taxes.

The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved extending the filing deadline at its June 24 Zoom meeting.

“Because of COVID people did not have an opportunity to make that application,” said Selectman Bob Hebert, raising the issue.

“My ask tonight,” Hebert told fellow selectmen, “...is that we extend this until July 15, to give people an opportunity to make the application.”

The deadline for applying to get into the program is usually April 1, but this year because of COVID-19 — which closed town hall, and has kept many people in — the deadline had been extended to May 15, and is now extended again to July 15.

The town hall building remains closed to the usual coming and going, although town departments are operating.

A June 27 release from the town Office of Emergency Management gave the following summary concerning tax payments:

“Tax Collector’s Office: Taxes can be mailed, paid online, and beginning July 1, collected in-person through the Bailey Avenue entrance only. Taxpayers must have cash or prewritten check ready as there will be no place to write. Per CDC guidelines, face coverings, hand sanitizing and social distancing will be required to pay in person.

“Any tax adjustments must be resolved with the Tax Assessor via email prior to entering the building.”

First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the selectmen’s June 24 meeting that Assessor Al Garzi had confirmed that people did take advantage of that initial month and a half period — April 1 to May 15 — that sign-ups for the program were kept open.

“He had another 7 to 10 people who came in during that extension,” Marconi said.

There are about 1,500 Ridgefield taxpayers that receive the senior tax credit, according to Garzi, and the cost to the town’s other taxpayers is about $1,500,000 to $1,600,000 a year.

Once senior taxpayers have signed up for the tax credit, they receive it year after year as long as they own the property and continue to qualify — they don’t need to sign up again each year.

There are no income qualifications to the program. The principal requirement is age.

“You have to be 65,” Garzi said. To qualify for the break this year a taxpayer would have to “be 65 by the end of 2019,” he said.

There are a few other requirements.

“You have to live in the house at least 183 days a year — you have to ‘domicile’ here,” Garzi said. “You’ve got to own the house on the assessment date, which is Oct 1, and pay at least one year’s taxes before you apply.”

The program is growing as more town taxpayers reach age 65.

“We get about 150 new applications a year, and we get about 50 people that come off on a yearly basis,” Garzi told The Press.

Before the initial extension from April to May 15, the program had close to normal growth.

“Prior to the extension we had 134 people come in, new applications during the filing period,” Garzi said.

The coronavirus did slow things down, although the assessor’s office tried to accommodate taxpayers, according to Garzi.

“Early on we had some walk-ins,” he said. “But once the building was closed, then what we did with all extensions, we tried to make it as easy as possible. We were doing everything by phone, email or snail mail.”