An amendment to a bill passed in May could limit how many retired military personnel and longtime residents receive a tax credit from the county.
County Councilman Jerry Donald (D-District 1) introduced an amendment to the county’s recently passed Elderly Individual and Retired Military Tax Credit that establishes an $80,000 combined income limit in order to receive the tax credit. The amendment also states the property tax credit is granted on the taxes resulting from only the first $300,000 of assessed value of the property.
Donald introduced the amendment to establish limits that are the same for other qualifying taxpayers throughout the county, he said.
The original bill, which was introduced by Councilman Billy Shreve (R-at large), did not establish any income limits for residents who receive the tax credit.
“Council member Shreve said let’s fix it later, so I want to do that,” Donald said Tuesday.
The council did not take action on the bill, but Councilman Tony Chmelik (R-District 2) did not express support for the $80,000 limit and wanted to increase it.
“Military personnel are well-trained and have unique skills,” Chmelik said. “They’re the kind of folks we want and want to stay. I see this as an incentive to stay here. ... I’m not saying one is better than the other. But we are looking to keep people of that caliber. What are we doing to keep them here?”
Chmelik added that many retired military personnel would be over the $80,000 threshold and the bill may become “almost useless.”
But the income limits were meant to serve as an equalizer, not an incentive program, Donald said.
“I wanted it to be equal for others,” Donald said.
The bill itself takes 20 percent off the property tax bill of qualified seniors and veterans for up to five years. To qualify for the tax credit, a person who is at least 65 years old and has to have lived in the same dwelling for at least the preceding 40 years, or a person who is at least 65 and is a retired member of the uniformed services of the United States, the military reserves, or the National Guard.
The credit will be available starting in tax years starting July 1, 2019.
The tax credit was expected to cost the county $1.7 million in reduced revenue each year under the original draft, according to an analysis from the county treasury director. But that number could be smaller due to the income limit, which could lead to fewer people receiving the tax credit.
A bill to establish a tax credit for public safety officers was pulled from the agenda Tuesday.