Howard County has issued $2.2 million in new senior citizen tax credits this year, approving 2,489 new requests for credit since July 1.
The county announced last week that it issued a total of 3,022 credits this year, 82 percent of which went toward two new credits: a senior tax credit and an aging-in-place credit.
Linda Watts assistant director of the Office of Finance, said the county received 1,267 applications for the senior tax credit, 801 of which were approved for credits to date; the county received 1,821 applications for the aging-in-place program and issued 1,690 credits.
The Aging in Place Tax Credit is for those who are older than 65 or are retired members of the military and have lived in their home for more than 40 years; it allows a 20 percent tax credit on up to $500,000 of assessed property value over a five-year period. Maryland’s General Assembly is currently considering a 2018 bill that would amend the tax credit to apply to anyone over 65 who has lived in the same county, not necessaily the same home, for at least 40 years.
Watts said the county received more applications for the credit than expected and that the department was “inundated” with applications. Despite the higher than anticipated number of credits, Watts said it is not a financial hardship for the county to fund the credits.
Angie Boyter, a member of the county’s Commission on Aging, said she appreciates that the credit allows more people to remain in their homes.
“So many people really do want to stay in the community that they’re in, that they’ve been in for all these years,” said Boyter, who has lived in her home for 50 years.
The Senior Tax Credit applies to those 65 or older whose gross household income is less than $81,200. The age requirement for the credit was lowered this year from 70 years old, causing an expected rise in the number of credits issued, Watts said.
Howard was not the only county to receive more aging in place applications than expected. In Montgomery County, where the tax credit is called a Property Tax Credit for Elderly Individuals and for Military Retirees, Michael Coveyou, chief of the Montgomery County Division of Treasury, said he expected the county to issue about 3,000 credits; it received approximately 5,700 applications and issued approximately 4,800 credits.
The credits are another form of support for Howard County’s continually growing senior population. In 2016, 13.1 percent of county residents were over age 65, according to census data; that is expected to rise to 18 percent by 2025 and reach 22 percent by 2035.
Despite the growing number of senior residents and the popularity of the credits, Boyter said not enough residents know that the credits exist. Boyter said more residents need to know they can receive money back from the county.
“The aging in in place [credit] got me a couple thousand [dollars] back and you can too,” Boyter said.