New Maine Law Makes Major Changes to Modernize and Improve Maine’s Property Tax System
The Maine Legislature recently enacted Public Law Chapter 367, “An Act to Modernize and Improve Maine’s Property Tax System.” In the first major overhaul of Maine’s property tax statutes in years, the law makes five key changes that affect property tax administration in Maine.
1. The law requires that a taxpayer and municipality participate in mandatory mediation prior to advancing to a hearing before the State Board of Property Tax Review.
The state entity has jurisdiction over appeals of nonresidential property with valuations over $1,000,000.
2. The law clarifies the process by which assessors may request confidential and proprietary information from taxpayers and who may review such information.
Assessors are now expressly permitted to share certain taxpayer-provided confidential and proprietary information with individuals involved in the conduct of official duties. In particular, such information may be disclosed to the State Tax Assessor, to trained mediators, in a judicial proceeding in camera, in administrative proceedings in executive session, and to public officials or any employee, agent, attorney, or consultant engaged in official business. Intentional, unauthorized disclosure of confidential and proprietary information remains a Class E crime.
3. The law further clarifies that assessors may make “proper inquiries” into the nature, situation, and value of a taxpayer’s property simultaneously with a request for a “true and perfect list” of the taxpayer’s property.
Prior to this change, some taxpayers took the position that such “proper inquiries” were not valid unless preceded by a request for a “true and perfect list,” although the State Board had recently rejected this position. This technical clarification to the statute will greatly streamline a taxpayer’s reporting obligations and make annual reporting more efficient for both taxpayers and municipalities.
4. The law changes the membership of the State Board of Property Tax Review.
The public member has now been replaced with a person “with expertise in taxation, finance or property valuation matters.” The law also removes the requirement that the assessor member be a retired assessor.
5. The law creates the Task Force to Restructure and Improve the Efficiency of the State Board of Property Tax Review.
The Task Force is charged with evaluating the entire State Board process and making recommendations to further improve the efficiency of the appeal process.
The new law, which becomes effective 90 days following adjournment of the Legislature, was the product of a compromise reached among Maine assessors, large commercial taxpayers, and other stakeholders.