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The Issues: Maine's Budget
During my first term in office I served as a member of the Legislative Joint Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs, where I learned a great deal about the state budget and bonding process. A budget official in New York City once told me, "Budgets are about choices and choices are about values." It is very true that how we choose to prioritize and spend our tax dollars is one of our key functions as policy makers.
Every budget passed by the state goes before the people during a public hearing before the Appropriations Committee. Weigh in!
There has also been much debate about Maine's tax burden and whether our overall taxes are too high, specific taxes are too high, and whether our specific tax system is a progressive and fair one. Maine relies on a few major taxes to collect revenue for state and local government and school programs including: income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, the corporate tax, and a variety of lesser taxes and fees.
For a breakdown of how much of the overall collection each of these categories represents, visit the Maine Center for Economic Policy website to read Making Sense of Maine's Tax Burden and an excellent report written on Maine's tax history and current burden by State Senator Peter Mills, Maine's Changing Revenue Tides. [Note: To view the documents at the MECEP site, a very brief and free registration is required.]
The legislature took a major step forward in January of 2005 with the passage of LD 1, a law aimed at directing property tax relief to the communities and people who most need it through an increase in the circuit breaker program, an increase in the homestead exemption and increases in school funding. To learn more about the new law, read the Portland Press Herald's article on the new plan.
Following below are sections of online resources offering useful information about the Maine state budget and our tax system to help you learn more, seek relief guidance and participate in the decisions affecting our lives.
Office of Fiscal and Program Review
Informative web presence of the legislative office that analyzes and tracks the state budget document and policy within that document.
Maine Economy & Demographics
Economic studies, statistics, demographics and reports on the State of Maine including a brief history of the Maine economy and Industry information.
Maine Center for Economic Policy
An independent, nonpartisan research organization advancing public policy solutions to achieve a prosperous, fair and sustainable economy. Contains informative breakdowns of how the Maine budget is spent and where our state tax dollars come from.
Fair Budget and Taxes
The Maine Center for Economic Policy's extensive listing of reports and publications on the subject of Maine's tax burden.
Maine Revenue Service
Download forms, file online, read the Maine Taxpayer Bill of Rights, learn about tax relief that may be available to you and find answers to all of the questions you may have about Maine taxation and revenue collection.
MRS Fast File
File your Maine state tax return online through their web forms or via eMail. Includes instructions, download links and secure connections.
Starting a Business
Information on everything from initial business planning tips and financing advice to forms, fees and licensing details provided by the state and other local business development agencies.
2005 Proposed State Valuation
Proposed state valuations of every town in Maine listed alphabetically by county. Each county's figures are available as a downloadable PDF, requiring the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Maine Homestead Exemption Application
The MRS Tax Relief page conatins legislation information and summaries along with forms and applications for tax credits, abatements and exemptions including the Maine Homestead Exemption which was recently raised from the current $7,000 to $13,000 in a new Maine law.
Maine Residents Property Tax Relief Program
For renters and homeowners, also known as a circuit breaker program. LD 1 raised the income eligibility for this program to $75,000 for those paying greater than 4% of their income in property taxes, and also increased the maximum rebate to $2000 for those in the lowest income brackets (from $1000).
MRS Tax Relief
Includes information and relevant forms for additional property tax programs such as poverty abatement, charitable institutions, veterans' applications, and widows of veterans exemptions.
Legislature Passes Maine Property Tax Bill
The Maine Legislature's press release containing details on what was included in the 2005 property tax reform package.
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