MARK SIEDLECKI URGES TAX FREEZE FOR HAMILTON COUNTY SENIOR CITIZENS

 

In 2006, Tennessee voters overwhelmingly approved, with 83% of the vote, a statewide referendum that would allow counties and municipalities to freeze property taxes for elderly homeowners. Since then, 23 counties have adopted this program through their local county commission. Hamilton County is the only major county in the state that has not, despite the minimal cost involved.

“It is morally wrong to work your whole life only to be forced from your home due to a tax increase or nearby rising property values,” said Mark Siedlecki, candidate for Assessor of Property. “Our county commission has had almost a decade to enact this important legislation and they have failed to act. When I am elected, I will make it a priority to protect our elderly residents and keep them in their homes.”

To solve this problem, the county commission can pass a resolution at the local level to enact this program in Hamilton County. Mark will work with the commission and continue to advocate for the people who built the foundation of our prosperity. Otherwise, our senior citizens are vulnerable to losing their homes in several different scenarios:

Scenario A: Surrounding property values increase due to development and/or gentrification. Existing homeowners see their tax bills rise and are unable to pay them, thus being forced out of their homes and displaced to a lower-cost part of town or can even become homeless.

Scenario B: County commission passes a property tax increase for all homeowners. Senior homeowners living on a fixed income cannot pay the new higher taxes. They would be forced out of their homes and into a cheaper, and likely smaller and less convenient, place to live. In this scenario, it is also possible for the senior citizen to become homeless.

If Hamilton County adopts the state Tax Freeze program, it will help keep our elderly residents in their homes and avoid the above scenarios. The county commission doesn’t have to wait for the August 4 election. They are able to act on this now. With a reassessment coming up next year, we must act quickly to protect our seniors. The county commission legislation must be passed prior to the reassessment process.

As an example, Davidson County, which adopted the program in 2007, has seen a reduction in property tax revenue of only 0.1%, while countless seniors have been able to stay in their homes as a result.

In order to qualify, total household income can be no greater than $38,070 per year.

Counties that have adopted the Tax Freeze Relief Program for Seniors:

County: Year Adopted:
Anderson 2007
Bledsoe 2011
Blount 2007
Bradley 2007
Campbell 2008
Coffee 2008
Davidson 2007
Franklin 2008
Hamblen  2007
Hancock   2010
Hickman 2008
Knox 2007
Madison 2012
Montgomery 2008
Roane 2007
Robertson 2008
Rutherford 2008
Sevier 2008
Shelby 2008
Smith 2008
Summer 2008
Williamson 2008
Wilson 2007

 

Here is the text of the referendum that passed statewide with 83% of the vote:

 

By general law, the legislature may authorize the following program of tax relief:

(a) The legislative body of any county or municipality may provide by resolution or ordinance that:

(1) Any taxpayer who is sixty-five (65) years of age or older and who owns residential property as the taxpayer’s principal place of residence shall pay taxes on such property in an amount not to exceed the maximum amount of tax on such property imposed at the time the ordinance or resolution is adopted;

(2) Any taxpayer who reaches the age of sixty-five (65) after the time the ordinance or resolution is adopted, who owns residential property as the taxpayer’s principal place of residence, shall thereafter pay taxes on such property in an amount not to exceed the maximum amount of tax on such property imposed in the tax year in which such taxpayer reaches age sixty-five (65); and

(3) Any taxpayer who is sixty-five (65) years of age or older, who purchases residential property as the taxpayer’s principal place of residence after the taxpayer’s sixty-fifth birthday, shall pay taxes in an amount not to exceed the maximum amount of tax imposed on such property in the tax year in which such property is purchased.

(b) Whenever the full market value of such property is increased as a result of improvements to such property after the time the ordinance or resolution is adopted, then the assessed value of such property shall be adjusted to include such increased value and the taxes shall also be increased proportionally with the value.

(c) Any taxpayer or taxpayers who own residential property as their principal place of residence whose total or combined annual income or wealth exceeds an amount to be determined by the General Assembly shall not be eligible to receive the tax relief provided in subsection (a) or (b).