County expands tax exemption for low-income senior citizens

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 October 2014 at 12:00 am

ALBION – The County Legislature unanimously voted on Wednesday to expand the income threshold for senior citizens to qualify for a discount on their county taxes.

Residents 65 and older currently are eligible for a discount if they earn less than $19,200 a year. Beginning with the March 1, 2015 tax rolls, the threshold has been raised to $21,200.

Right now the county offers 50 percent off for seniors with household incomes up to $13,500. The sliding scale exemption drops to 20 percent off for seniors with annual incomes between $18,300 and $19,199. It’s 0 percent for seniors with incomes at $19,200 or above.

The new schedule gives senior citizens 50 percent off if they earn less than $15,500 and then the discount drops 5 percent in a sliding scale to 20 percent before being capped at $21,200.

There are 313 seniors who currently receive the exemption. The county hasn’t changed the income levels in seven years. Seniors have been getting small increases in Social Security, putting some on the verge of losing the county tax discount, said Dawn Allen, director of the county’s Real Property Tax Services Department.

“We’re trying to maintain the current seniors in the program,” Allen told legislators.

Most of the towns in the county have a similar tax discount program for seniors, capping it at incomes above $21,200, Allen said.

The new proposed schedule includes the following percentage exemptions:

50 percent off for incomes up to $15,500;
45 percent off for incomes between $15,500 and $16,499;
40 percent between $16,500 and $17,499;
35 percent between $17,500 and $18,499;
30 percent between $18,500 and $19,399;
25 percent between $19,400 and $20,299;
20 percent between $20,300 and $21,199;
0 percent after $21,200.