The Franklin County Commission voted unanimously on Monday to pass a resolution encouraging the Tennessee General Assembly to fully fund the State Tax Relief Program for disabled and elderly owners.
The resolution is an attempt to counter a bill in the Tennessee Legislature that would cut local tax relief funding meant to assist some of the county’s most vulnerable citizens.
The Tennessee Tax Relief Program has been providing much needed financial relief for the disabled, elderly and disabled veterans in Tennessee for more than forty years.
The bill being considered by the Tennessee Legislature could limit the program and drastically change the way it is administered. The bill would force homeowners under the program to pay for their taxes up front and await a reim-bursement from the state.
Franklin County Trustee Randy Kelly said that the bill would hurt hundreds of residents who depend on the program to help them pay their property taxes.
“This resolution isn’t ask-ing for anything new, it’s just an attempt to protect what is already there,” Kelly said. “We are trying to stand behind our taxpayers and support them so that they don’t lose assistance that they have become accustomed to receiving.”
The state trustees have gone on record opposing the bill and are requesting that the tax relief program be funded in full for another year.
Under the current program, disabled and elderly (65 and older) homeowners who earn less than $27,800 a year can qualify for property tax relief on up to $25,000 of the market value of their principal residence.
Disabled veterans receive tax relief on the first $175,000 of their home’s market value.
According to Kelly, the program has grown over the years and in Franklin County alone supported around 900 homeowners last year.
Kelly explained that Gov. Bill Haslam’s budget does not include the additional appropriations need to fully fund the program.
For the last two tax sea-sons, the tax relief program has received $28.4 million in state funding.
Despite an additional $3 million appropriation that had to be made to fully fund the program for the 2013 tax year, only $28.4 million is being proposed by the governor’s office for next year.
The deficit is expected to be about $6 million to make ends meet during the 2104 fiscal year. The shortfall could mean less tax rebate relief for participants.