Property tax deferral advocates try again
Oregon Legislature may consider issue in 2013
Members of the Alliance of Vulnerable Homeowners, a grassroots group representing taxpayers who were abruptly terminated from the state property tax deferral program in 2011, are hopeful that the introduction of House Bill 2510 in the 2013 Oregon Legislature will help more residents stay in their homes.
The legislative proposal would make a number of changes in the program, including the following:
-- Reinstate former program participants who were terminated solely because they had reverse mortgages or had not lived in their homes for at least five years;
-- Replace the ban on reverse mortgages with a simple equity test;
-- Instruct the Department of Revenue to find out what happened to more than 2,000 participants who were simply dropped from the program when they didn't reapply after being notified in 2011;
-- Propose to transfer administration of the tax deferral program from DOR to the Department of Housing and Community Services.
All of the proposed changes make a great deal of sense, says David Raphael, a spokesman for the alliance.
The additional good news, according to Raphael, is that the program's revolving fund is healthy once again.
He said that current revenue projections indicate that there will be sufficient funds to cover current and future tax deferral payments, as well as to restore the former participants covered in HB2510.
The self-sufficiency of the fund that is used to defer the taxes of eligible participants was the key issue in 2011 that led lawmakers to tighten eligibility for the program.
Those rule changes caused more than 5,000 senior and other disadvantaged homeowners to be dropped from the property tax deferral program - about half of the households enrolled at the time.
Almost one third of those terminated received temporary reprieves last year when the Legislature approved two-year extensions for roughly 1,500 seniors who had been disqualified solely because they had reverse mortgages.
But, Raphael said, the reprieve will run out this year, and those older homeowners are once again facing possible foreclosure.
He says that alliance members and other advocacy groups representing seniors and people with disabilities are hoping to have a full discussion of the issues with legislators this year, and are calling on the House Revenue Committee to take up the measure by holding public hearings on HB2510 early in the session. The Alliance of Vulnerable Homeowners is a statewide consumer organization representing senior, disabled and other low-income homeowners in Oregon.