The Howard County Council has filed a bill to amend the existing County tax credit for seniors who are 65 years or older and who have lived in the County for at least 35 years. The credit also applies to retired members of the Armed Forces of the United States, and their surviving spouses, but those individuals are not affected by the Bill. Council Bill 23-2021 is the first legislative proposal introduced and co-sponsored by all five Council Members.

“Since 2019, my office has tracked the General Assembly’s enabling legislation in support of our aging in place community. This historic legislative proposal has garnered support from all five Council Members and would best assist valued members of our community,” said Councilmember Jones. “This tax incentive is necessary as we stride through a global pandemic that has impacted thousands of residents.”

“I am so pleased that we are able to provide this assistance to those who have helped support our County for many years as taxpaying residents. Through their financial contributions, these longtime residents have helped make Howard County one of the best places to live in the Country. This bill recognizes their commitment to our community,” said Councilmember Jung.

If enacted, Council Bill 23-2021 would provide a tax credit for seniors who are 65 years or older and who have lived in the same dwelling for more than 35 years. The legislative proposal phases in the reduction of the current 40 years residency to 35 years over three years. The existing 20 percent tax credit for five non-consecutive years on assessed property value of $500,000 or less remains unchanged.

The Bill does not change the ability of retired members of the Armed Forces of the United States who are 65 years or older and their surviving spouses who have not remarried to apply for the aging in place tax credit.

“Over the years, I have talked with hundreds of older Howard County residents who struggle with the increasing financial burden of retiring in our community. This legislation takes an important step to make the Aging in Place Tax Credit more accessible for our older neighbors,” said Councilwoman Rigby. “I am excited that the Council has put this proposal forward, and I am grateful to Councilmembers Jones and Jung for their leadership on drafting this legislation.”

“What a perfect time to improve upon our Aging-In-Place Tax Credit, during a pandemic when we’re still not able to vaccinate the eldest and most vulnerable among us and public health guidance still advises they stay healthy, at home. I am delighted to join a unanimous Council in our support of this bill,” said Councilmember Walsh.

“Through their decades of property tax payments and other contributions, thousands of long-time residents helped create much of what we enjoy in Howard County. I hope this expanded tax credit will help them remain a part of our community for years to come,” said Councilmember Yungmann.

Adopted in 2016 by the General Assembly and later by the Howard County Council, the “Elderly Individuals and Veterans” tax code established a tax credit for residents who are at least 65 years of age, have lived in the same dwelling for at least 40 years, or is a retired member of the United States Armed Forces that meets the above qualifications.

In 2018 the General Assembly added language to include, “surviving spouses of retired service members,” who have not remarried are now eligible recipients of the property tax credit. Moreover, in 2019, the General Assembly gave the Howard County Council the authority to amend the duration of years living in the same dwelling (capped at 40 years).

The Howard County Council strongly encourages advocates, seniors, and retired members of the Armed Forces to submit written testimony in support of Council Bill 23-2021 by emailing councilmail@howardcountymd.gov.

The proposed legislation was pre-filed on February 18, 2021, and will be introduced at the Council’s Legislative Session on Monday, March 1, 2021. Testimony will be accepted at the Legislative Public Hearing on Monday, March 15, 2021. Howard County residents may sign up to testify after March 5th by visiting https://apps.howardcountymd.gov/otestimony/.

To read Council Bill 23-2021, please visit https://bit.ly/37wI9u2.

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I am going to admit now that I have not read through all of this legislation yet so I am far from an expert on it. I have been sent some questions and I have come up with my own questions about this legislation. Maybe one or more of the five Councilmembers that read the blog (or their staff) can answer these questions:

  • “provide a tax credit for seniors who are 65 years or older and who have lived in the same dwelling for more than 35 years” – What about for residents that have lived in Howard County for the past 35 years in multiple residences? People do move or upgrade their dwelling over time but have decided to remain in this county.
  • “The existing 20 percent tax credit for five non-consecutive years on assessed property value of $500,000 or less remains unchanged” – If a resident bought their property in 1968 for $375,000 and now that property is assessed at greater than $500,000 by the county – does this long time resident not qualify for this tax benefit?

Again, not being an expert on this legislation I do not have the answer to those question above but if I hear back from our elected officials I will be sure to let the community know.

Scott E

2 COMMENTS

  1. Too late, my wife and I after 30 years living in Howard County, just moved to Delaware. My wife, a financial planner, took a long term view at the financial impact of staying or moving. The cost to move is not trivial, but break even comes in about 5 – 7 years. And that is based on the reduction of property taxes. Non-tax, or no sales tax on items purchased in Delaware was not considered. Also the price difference in home cost between Howard County and Delaware put $$$$ in play for investments. Finally, even if we had stayed it would be another 5 years before we would see a tax break.

    But maybe that is a good thing. My old neighborhood is 30 years old. In the past several years I would guess that 10% of the owners have retired and have moved out of state. Those houses have been purchased by young families. Painful, but all in all perhaps for the best

  2. I do not see this as being legislation to aid the majority of seniors (65 plus) to age in place in Howard County. It certainly does not aid most seniors of color who became homeowners much later. Also statistics show most homeowners upgrade within 7-10 years of buying their starter home. Then, as they enter their mid 70s many are downsizing. The legislation seems to assist a very limited part of the senior population. I appreciate the consideration but from what I can read, it leaves many seniors questioning its benefit.

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