Maine Enacts Property Tax Modernization and Improvement Law
Maine recently passed L.D. 1479, An Act To Modernize and Improve Maine’s Property Tax System, which implements certain changes to the state’s property tax assessment, review, and appeals processes. This law grew out of discussions at the Maine Pulp and Paper Association Summit held in late 2015. At that event, the pulp and paper industry identified the state’s property tax system as one of the industry’s challenges; in particular, the state’s high industrial property tax valuations and byzantine appeal process. This tax issue was quickly identified as one that could be resolved through new legislation. Out of this discussion, L.D. 1479 was born.
L.D. 1479, sponsored by Rep. Steve Stanley of Medway, was first introduced in 2017, and was carried over to the 2018 session after local assessors opposed making changes to the current system. After negotiations with stakeholders, the measure underwent a number of changes before ultimately being passed into law earlier this month as Public Law c. 367.
The new law represents a compromise among municipal interests, taxpayers, and other stakeholders. While there is still room for further improvement, the new law makes several key changes to the state’s property tax system:
- Beginning August 1, 2018, at least one member of the State Board of Property Tax Review must be a person with expertise in taxation, finance, or property valuation matters. This new state board position will be appointed by the Governor.
- The parties must engage in a mediation process for all appeals filed with the State Board of Property Tax Review.
- The law clarifies the statute governing information requests made by assessors to taxpayers.
- Most importantly, the law creates a nine-member task force, the Task Force To Restructure and Improve the Efficiency of the State Board of Property Tax Review. The Task Force will study, assess, and evaluate the process of, and the duties assigned to, the State Board of Property Tax Review and will develop recommendations for restructuring the Board as necessary by February 2019. Two of the members of the Task Force will be appointed by the Governor to represent large industrial property taxpayers.