October 11, 2007
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ELDERLY TAX RELIEF PROGRAMS
By: Saul Spigel, Chief Analyst
You asked whether a town that offers both local option tax freeze and tax relief programs for the elderly must count benefits provided under the tax freeze in determining whether it must place a lien on the home of a person who also receives benefits under the tax relief program.
The Office of Legislative Research is not authorized to render legal opinions, and this memorandum should not be construed as one.
Benefits provided under the optional tax freeze program (PA 06-176, codified at CGS § 12-170v and –w) do not count toward the threshold that requires a town to place a lien on property whose owner receives tax relief under CGS § 12-129n. The latter law permits towns to offer tax abatements, exemptions, freezes, and other forms of tax relief. But it requires a town that provides such relief to place a lien on a covered property when the total tax break the owner receives from this program plus the circuit breaker (CGS § 12-170aa) and mandatory tax freeze (CGS § 12-129b to –d) programs reaches 75% of the tax for which he or she would otherwise be liable (CGS § 12-129 (f)).
Since benefits from the new optional tax freeze program (CGS § 12-170v) are not included in the list of tax relief programs that must be counted toward the 75% threshold for a lien, it would appear that a town cannot use the benefit a taxpayer obtains from this freeze in determining whether a property that also benefits from tax relief under CGS §12-129n has reached the lien threshold. This conclusion is supported by Connecticut case law that holds that towns must strictly comply with the property tax statutes (see Empire Estates, Inc. v. Stamford, 147 Conn. 262 (1960)).