MISSION - The mission of the Assessing Department is to accurately determine the value of property located within the City of Ellsworth for the purpose of taxation. Assessors are obligated under law to assess all property at its just value as of the 1st of April each year. This department is also responsible for the administration of all property tax data records. We maintain accurate parcel ownership (data) based upon recorded property transactions we receive from the Registry of Deeds and all map data pertinent to accurate parcel identification.
The Assessing Department is committed to creating an assessment system that taxpayers can look to as an example of efficiency, creativity and performance. This department is charged with establishing market-based assessments for almost 9,000 accounts.
The Assessing Office provides one-stop shopping for taxpayer services, including:
INFORMATION – parcel information via the telephone or internet, explanations of tax bills, abatements and exemption programs, tree growth program status, change of mailing address, new street numbers, and general informational publications. We maintain a complete deeded history of ownership for each parcel in town. We also maintain data such as: sale prices, acreage size, building size, zoning, etc. Visit our internet website at www.ellsworthmaine.gov or call us at 667-8674.
ASSISTANCE – assisting taxpayers with applications for Business Equipment Tax Reimbursements (BETR), Homestead Exemptions, Veterans Exemptions, the Tree Growth Program, and other tax relief programs.
PROBLEM SOLVING – “certified” assistance in Assessing for resolution of disputed assessments, and abatement processing. We take pride in preventing problems before they occur by keeping taxpayers informed of their current use obligations. For example: purchasers of land already in Tree Growth will often not know that substantial monetary penalties are automatically triggered by development. The new tree growth owner has the extra responsibility of hiring a licensed forester to prepare a forest management plan. Ideally the buyer would visit our office and learn these things prior to purchase, but very often new owners are taken completely by surprise to learn this information upon receiving it from our office.
PROPERTY TAX RELIEF PROGRAMS
All taxpayers have available to them certain qualifying programs created by various Maine State statutes. These are programs that either reduce the assessed value prior to commitment or directly reimburse the taxpayer after taxes are paid. The following is a list of tax relief programs:
1. Homestead Exemption--available to those residential property owners who have certified as to their primary residence as of April 1st. This reduces your taxable valuation by $10,000.
2. Veteran’s Exemption--available to those veterans, disabled veterans and widowers of veterans from various qualifying US Armed Services in qualifying wars who are residential property owners and have certified as to their primary residence as of April 1st. This can provide a reduction in taxable valuation of 6,000.
3. Tree Growth--available to those properties with at least 10 forested acres of land that is protected under tree growth and assessed at “current” use rather than “just” value. This program can substantially reduce the tax burden for owners of large tracts of undeveloped land but also has a substantial penalty for withdrawal.
4. Farm Land-- available to those properties used for farming activities.
5. Open Space--available to those properties that have been preserved forever wild through conservation easement or other means.
6. Blind Exemption--$4000 assessed value reduction to the blind.
7. BETR Program-- This program provides up to a 100% direct reimbursement from the State for local personal property taxes paid.
8. BETE Program—similar to the BETR program but allows exemptions for most non-retail type personal property.
9. The Maine Residents Property Tax and Rent Refund “Circuitbreaker” Program has been repealed as part of the enacted state budget for claims beginning on or after August 1, 2013. The Circuitbreaker Program has been replaced by a refundable Property Tax Fairness Credit that can be claimed on the Maine Individual Income Tax Form.
The new credit will be available beginning in January, 2014 on the 2013 Maine Individual Income Tax Form 1040ME. A worksheet will be included with Form 1040ME to calculate the amount of the credit.
For more: http://www.state.me.us/revenue/taxrelief/tnr.htm
10. Hardship Abatements – the City Council (not the assessor) may abate taxes if a person is unable to contribute to the public charges.