Selectmen ponder tax breaks for seniors

The OWLS are looking for a break — as in tax break.

A three-pronged increase in senior citizens’ tax benefits has been proposed by John K. Fisher, president of the OWLS, the seniors group whose name derives from “Older Wiser Livelier Set.”

In a letter included in the selectmen’s budget materials, Fisher proposed three changes:

  • An increase in the annual property tax reduction (for people over 65) from the current $1,048 per year to $1,200 per year.
  • That the cut-off point for household income to participate in the town’s “tax deferment” program be raised from $55,000 to $65,000 a year. This program is designed to allow people with limited incomes to delay paying taxes, or a portion of their taxes, while living out their senior years in their homes. The money is collected by the town when the house is eventually sold.
  • That the town “consider freezing the real estate taxes for people 75 years or older.”

At their first budget meeting Monday night, the selectmen briefly discussed the requests, approved by the OWLS Club on Dec. 7.

They noted that the current elderly tax relief program — the $1,048 per household that town tax bills are reduced for people 65 or older — is budgeted at a cost of $1.6 million a year, suggesting it is received by 1,527 seniors. If that’s the case, increasing it from $1,048 to $1,200 — $152 — would cost about another $232,000.

The selectmen also pondered the proposed “freeze” on taxes for people over 75.

“If you look at the enrollment at Founders Hall,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said, “the number of people over 90 is incredible.”