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Boise prepares property tax relief for vulnerable adults

City Hall, Boise, Fountain, People
Lacey Daley
Boise State Public Radio

Boise City Council is using $1.2 million to help the city’s low-income residents offset their rising property taxes.

Council members signed off on an ordinance Tuesday night establishing the program, which has already been budgeted for. That money can only go toward paying city taxes and won’t help with amounts owed to counties, school districts or other taxing entities.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed legislation allowing cities to give property tax relief to vulnerable homeowners enrolled in the Circuit Breaker program.

It requires participants to earn less than $32,230 a year, be 65 or older, disabled, a prisoner of war, former hostage or blind, along with living in and owning their homes. The assessed value of those homes can’t exceed $800,000.

About 1,200 Boiseans enrolled in the Circuit Breaker this year, according to city officials. The Idaho Tax Commission will soon send the city an up-to-date list of those eligible for the rebate.

Lana Graybeal, a city communications manager, said last week those folks will begin hearing from the city beginning in December.

“This will include a letter that will hit mailboxes the same week that people receive their tax bills for the year, and it’ll include an application with it for ease of use for people to be able to fill it out and submit it,” Graybeal said.

Those mailings will include a stamped envelope to return a completed application. Qualified residents will also be able to apply online or at city hall next month.

Those who aren’t already enrolled in the Circuit Breaker can’t get the rebate, though that’s something council members are urging state lawmakers to change when they return in January.

“I would like over time for us to have the strategy as well to connect with those who qualify, but don’t or haven’t submitted an application to expand the property tax relief as far as possible,” said Mayor Lauren McLean.

City officials are also recommending legislators eliminate the application process entirely and instead automatically enroll Idahoans in the Circuit Breaker who meet the income and other eligibility requirements.

They’d also like to see the rebate system convert to a credit system on future property tax payments to avoid any potential income tax consequences.

Boise appears to currently be the only city in Idaho creating such a rebate program under the new law.

Kelley Packer, executive director of the Association of Idaho Cities, said Wednesday that she doesn’t know of any others participating in the upcoming year.

“…most of Idaho’s cities do not have the capacity to implement those rebates, due to lack of revenue for the required and expected city services that they manage on a day to day basis,” Packer wrote in an email.

Once Boise’s program launches next month, city staff will accept applications until next May.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!