Bill to prevent benefits hurting deductions

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Assemblyman Hal Wirths has introduced legislation preventing government pensions, disability and retirement benefits from being counted against seniors and disabled persons when applying for a $250 property tax deduction.

Seniors with incomes of $10,000 or less qualify for the deduction, unless their benefits exceed the person’s maximum Social Security benefit. If they do, the excess amount counts towards the $10,000 limit.

“Qualifying for the property tax deduction shouldn’t be a guessing game. Nor should people be penalized because they receive other benefits they earned or are entitled to,” said Wirths (R-Sussex). “Every penny counts for people struggling to pay their bills. Eliminating the benefits cap removes any confusion and paves the way for more seniors and disabled persons to receive the deduction.”

Wirths’ constitutional amendment asks voters if they want to exclude benefits from the $10,000 limit.

Wirths learned of the issue after reading a letter to the editor in a local paper by a constituent who wrote about difficulties he had with the application process. He said the instructions were confusing and omitted vital information. Instead of receiving the deduction the town sent him a $500 tax bill.

Wirths’ district colleague, Assemblyman Parker Space, supports this common-sense reform and will be adding his name to ACR-183 when the Assembly reconvenes after Labor Day.

“The last thing people on fixed incomes need is a surprise tax bill,” said Space (R-Sussex). “This is why people don’t trust the government. We should make every effort to assist residents, not add to their angst.”

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