Councilman proposes expanding three property tax credit programs

Jan. 24—More senior citizens, and members of the military and their spouses would qualify for property tax credits if the Frederick County Council passes a trio of bills proposed by a Republican council member.

Councilman Steve McKay has support from three other council members, giving him the votes he needs to get his proposals passed.

Council President Brad Young, D, Vice President Kavonté Duckett, D, and Councilman Mason Carter, R, have all joined as cosigners on the bills, which McKay introduced during a workshop meeting Tuesday.

SeniorsIn Frederick County, people ages 65 or older with a combined gross household income of $30,000 or less can qualify for a 40% property tax credit, after adjustment for other credits and exemptions. Those with a combined gross household income above $30,000 but not more than $80,000 can receive a 20% credit.

The tax credit is available for the first $300,000 of the assessed home value.

Under one of McKay's bills, seniors with a combined gross household income of $50,000 or less could qualify for a 50% tax credit. Those with a combined income above $50,000 but not more than $100,000 would qualify for a 30% tax credit.

The property tax credit would be granted for the first $500,000 of the assessed home value.

Councilman Jerry Donald, D, said he's concerned that broadening the tax credit would decease revenue the county has to advance long-term projects like parks and libraries.

"Ask yourself, 'What are we going to forgo?'" Donald said during the meeting. Donald said that raising the home-value limit to $500,000 would be too large of an increase. McKay, though, said he would be willing to lower the proposed limit, suggesting $400,000.

"I'm prepared to actually show some flexibility on some of these points," McKay said.

Seniors and uniformed service membersThe county also offers a 20% tax credit to retired service members who are 65 or older, or their surviving spouses, and to seniors who've lived in a home for at least 40 years and have a gross household income of $80,000 or less.

Active, retired and discharged service members who have a service-connected disability, or their surviving spouses, can also qualify for the tax credit, according to the county's code.

Those eligible can receive the tax credit for a period of up to five years.

Another one of McKay's bills would increase the tax credit to 30% and the qualifying income limit for seniors who've lived in their home for at least 40 years to $100,000.

It would also remove the five-year duration limit.

Disabled veteransMilitary veterans with a permanent service-connected disability can qualify for a property tax credit of either 25% or 50%, depending on the severity of their disability. The surviving spouse of an eligible disabled veteran may also receive the tax credit for a maximum of five years, so long as they haven't remarried, the county's code states.

McKay's third bill would strike the five-year duration limit.

McKay was the lead sponsor on the bill to establish the disabled veterans property tax credit in 2021, which included the five-year duration limit for surviving spouses.

"Frankly, I regret putting it in," McKay said during the meeting.