Homeowners in Kent age 60 or older with a combined household income of less than $35,000 will qualify for a property tax exemption under an emergency bill passed by the Kent County Commissioners on Tuesday Feb. 9.

The bill was formally introduced at the Feb. 2 Commissioners’ meeting as an emergency bill so homeowners would have enough time to apply for the credit before the next tax bill arrives in July.

Homeowners who don’t qualify for the county tax credit may still qualify for the state tax credit because of different requirements. When homeowners apply for the county tax credit they are also applying for state credit at the same time. The application process is handled through the state website.

Kent County Commissioner Ron Fithian said homeowners are eligible for the credit no matter where they live in the county, as long as they meet the income and age requirements.

“If you live anywhere in Kent County, whether in a municipality or not, you can apply for the tax credit,” Fithian said in an interview Thursday. “I don’t want people to assume they are disqualified if they live in any of our towns.”

Increasing the income threshold to $35,000 was discussed at the Dec. 15 Commissioners’ meeting to help homeowners hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tax credit program was originally launched in 2008 during the financial crisis and the income threshold then was $25,000 and cost the county roughly $90,000 that year. In 2017 the threshold was raised to $30,000 and cost the general fund $155,000. This year the exemptions at the $35,000 threshold will cost the  county’s general fund as much as $300,000, Fithian said.

“This gives direct relief to people at the bottom of the pay scale,” Fithian said at the Dec. 15 Commissioners’ meeting. “In most cases it’s the older people that are on fixed incomes that really have to watch their dollars all the time. I think it’s a great program.”

Commissioner Bob Jacob said there are a lot of low income homeowners that would use the savings from the credit to pay down water and sewer bills.

Currently the state is experiencing delays publishing the 2021 Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit Application Form.

Screen shot of state website: https://dat.maryland.gov/ showing disabled links to tax credit application