Benton Harbor Implements Income Based Tax-Exemption

Nov 7, 2017

 

Benton Harbor will implement a policy that allows property owners who live at or below the federal poverty level to apply for property tax relief.

 

The policy allows  a single homeowner making no more than $1,260 dollars a year  or families of up to 8 making $41,320 dollars annually to apply for a yearly property tax exemption.  
 

To apply, a single homeowner couldn’t have more than $35,000 in assets , while for a family of 8 the total would be $7,000.
 

The asset total would exclude the principal residence and one vehicle per property.  If the homeowner owns a second vehicle the value would be added to their total assets.
 

City Manager Darwin Watson said the city is responding to a need in the community.
 

“There has been a number of persons who have come in and basically made a plea,” Watson said, “‘Hey, I’ve lost a job, lost some income, my taxes are high,’ and want to apply; And there was no mechanism to do that.”
 

Watson said that while the application for the exemption is submitted at a local level, the state tax tribunal has final say on approval.
 

The policy is connected to a state statute that allows for income-based property tax exemptions.
 

Watson said it’s hard to estimate how many people may benefit from the program.