Consider This: Property Tax Circuit Breakers - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Consider This: Property Tax Circuit Breakers

Property Tax Circuit Breakers

We're guessing you suffered sticker shock after opening your property revaluation, especially if you live near the water.

You can contest the revaluation, and if you're 65 or older, or totally and permanently disabled, you may be eligible for a "homestead exemption" equal to $20,000 or 50 percent of the value of your property if your total annual income is $20,500 or less. Well, we don't think that's enough protection for low-income homeowners whose taxes have escalated beyond their ability to pay.

Property tax is a regressive tax in that it requires low-income homeowners to pay a greater percentage of their income in property tax than wealthier taxpayers. We think North Carolina should join the 35 states that have instituted "property tax circuit breakers." It's called a circuit breaker because it protects taxpayers from a property tax "overload," just like an electric circuit breaker; when a property tax bill exceeds a certain percentage of a taxpayer's income, the circuit breaker reduces property taxes in excess of this "overload" level.

It works like this: If household income is $30,000, and the state determines the circuit breaker percentage is 3 percent of income, the property tax would be capped at $900. So let's hope circuit breakers are one of the tax relief measures the state legislature studies this session.

Sadly, no action taken by our representatives this session will help us this year. For most of us, our home is not an investment property; it's a place where we create our memories; and where we should have the choice to live out our lives. It would be a shame if this run-up in property valuation forced people on fixed-incomes to leave their homes because they can't afford to pay the taxes anymore.

That's what we think. Tell us what you think.

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