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Bill to boost Maine property tax credit introduced

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- The top Democrat in the Maine House is seeking to boost a new property and rent tax credit program amid concerns that it is hitting low-income Mainers who once relied on a much larger rebate.

House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick recently introduced a bill to increase the maximum rebate available under the new property tax fairness credit program. Starting January, some low-income Maine residents can get a credit of up to $300, or $400 if they are 70 or older.

That program is replacing a tax credit that was repealed in the state's current budget. The old program provided middle and low-income residents with as much as $1,600 back in their local property or rent taxes. That change is saving the state $23 million dollars this fiscal year.

Eves said in a statement that Democrats have heard growing concerns about the new, smaller tax credit and "feel it's important to work toward restoring that credit in the future."

The speaker's office said the bill would use some year-end surplus revenue to increase the credit available for property taxes. It also directs the Legislature to find additional ongoing funding to help property tax relief.

The bill will be taken up when lawmakers return in January. The amount the bill would raise won't be determined until it's debated in committee.