In 2013, it was hard to think of an idea more popular with the D.C. Council than Anita Bonds‘ property tax bill. The legislation, which exempted some senior citizens from property taxes, came as multiple councilmembers ran for re-election or for the mayor’s office, then got another boost when a Washington Post investigation found elderly homeowners losing their property in tax sales. Plus, who’s going to say no to old folks?
But now, Bonds says it was all for nothing. In a press release yesterday, Bonds claims that D.C. Council Chairman’s Phil Mendelson Budget Support Act, set for a Council vote this morning, “effectively repealed” her legislation.
Under Bonds’ bill, the Office of Tax and Revenue would just zero out the property taxes for homeowners 70 years old or older who fall under certain income thresholds and have had their homes for 20 years or more. In the Budget Support Act, though, elderly homeowners 70 years or older who qualify would still have to pay property taxes and then apply for a tax refund, according to Bonds’ office. Anyone 75 years or older would receive a deferment on their property taxes, which would be held off until the house leaves their family.
“It seems like it’s the same thing, but in actuality it’s very, very different from what the Council planned to do for seniors,” says Bonds spokesman Jermaine House.
Vince Gray‘s administration isn’t happy with the change, either. Continuing a beef the executive branch has had with Mendelson’s budgeting since he stripped hundreds of millions of dollars out of streetcar funding, Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro says that Mendelson is taking tax breaks away from the elderly to fund his other tax cuts.
“It’s beyond the optics,” says Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro. “It’s not a morally right thing to do.”
Mendelson says he’s happy to resolve Bonds’ issues with how the taxes are paid—-or not paid, depending on how things shake out. As for Gray, Mendelson thinks the administration is just looking for another thing to criticize his budget for.
“I appreciate that folks in the administration have been quite consistent over the last several weeks with complaining about every aspect of the budget that they can complain of,” Mendelson says.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery