Property tax bills are never welcome, even when you're able to deduct them on your federal income tax return.
And for folks who've seen their property value dramatically diminished because of a natural disaster, these real estate bills are fiscal insult to physical injury.
Their property was assessed before the storm hit, meaning they owe hundreds or thousands more than what it's now worth.
Vermont officials understand.
Gov. Peter Shumlin and state legislative leaders are working on a bill to ease the pain for property owners who took major losses due to Hurricane Irene and other flooding.
The bill also will ease the financial hit towns will take from a loss of property taxes from damaged homes and businesses.
Members of the Vermont legislature's tax-writing committees promise to quickly move the bill when they convene in January.
Under the proposal, the Vermont Tax Department will be authorized to reimburse lost education taxes to towns under an "extraordinary abatement" plan that will cost an estimated $2 million to $4 million. The money will come from the state education fund.
To qualify for the special property tax relief, a home or business must have lost use of the structure for 90 days and the structure must have suffered at least a 50 percent loss in value.
Towns that abate municipal taxes for affected property owners will be reimbursed for the education portion of the taxes.
The abatement is not for an entire year but applies only to the time during which the property was unusable.
Federal help, too: On the federal level, Vermont was among the first group of states in which areas were declared major disaster areas after Irene swept through in late August.
Ultimately, most of the Eastern Seaboard received this disaster declaration.
If affected homeowners didn't amend their 2010 returns to claim the disaster losses and get some tax relief this year, they can make the casualty claims on their 2011 tax returns that they'll file next year.
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