Circuit breaker change hurts elderly homeowners

Living on Social Security, my father-in-law, 95, has been rejected for the circuit breaker property tax credit because he does not file a federal tax return and thus cannot prove to the county that he is living on a fixed, poverty-level income. Of course, he does not file because he has too little income to tax.

Changes made to the circuit breaker program this last budget go-around have to rank as the most asinine legislative act of any County Council in recent memory, because helping elderly homeowners on fixed incomes was the rationale for that program enacted in the 1980s.

This current idiocy came to pass because some rich homeowners were abusing the circuit breaker property tax. So the council reacted by requiring so much documentation that most unassisted elderly cannot comply.

My wife has been helping her father with the paperwork to qualify for many years. Without her help, he would not have attempted to qualify even though he was the perfect candidate – sole owner on a fixed income. Not this time.

Responding to a letter from my wife, Council Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Mike White wrote, “It seems clear to me that your father is precisely the type of person for whom the Circuit Breaker Credit was intended to assist.” Nonetheless, Finance Director Danny Agsalog’s letter arrived a few days later with the pronouncement that his application was rejected, citing the failure to provide an Internal Revenue Service tax transcript.


Alan Isbell