During the past few weeks, Lewiston homeowners found their bi-annual property tax bills in their mailboxes. That has prompted many residents to reach out, asking me questions about changes in the Maine Homestead Exemption.

I would like to clarify a few things.

The Homestead Exemption has traditionally been a $10,000 reduction in taxable property value on a homeowner’s primary residence. The Legislature recently doubled the exemption in two steps — increasing it so that the first $15,000 of a home value is exempted this year. Next year, the exemption will go up to $20,000.

In Lewiston, there’s cause for a bit more confusion. Since the city is assessed at approximately 91 percent of full valuation, Lewiston homeowners’ homestead exemption is 91 percent of the full exemption amount. In relative terms, Lewiston homeowners are still getting the full benefit, but on their tax bills they will see $13,650 taken off the taxable value of homestead properties this year and $18,200 taken off next year.

As a ranking member of the Taxation Committee, I led the negotiation for this tax cut and was proud to support it as it made its way into law.

In terms of money back in homeowners’ pockets, this year’s homestead exemption is a savings of $376. Next year (all things being equal), the homestead exemption will be a savings of $509.

That’s serious cash back in the pockets of Lewiston homeowners.

Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston

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