Bill to Cap Property Tax Assessments for elderly, low-income Moves to House Floor

OKLAHOMA CITY - (March 6, 2007) - A measure that would significantly benefit Oklahoma 's elderly and low-income homeowners passed out the House Rules Committee yesterday.

House Joint Resolution 1009, by State Rep. Guy Liebmann, would place a state question on the November ballot that, if passed, would amend the state Constitution so assessors can increase property values, called the fair cash value, by no more than 3 percent each year or equal to the rate of the consumer price index, whichever is greater. The current cap is 5-percent.

Liebmann authored a similar measure last year, but it died in the Senate Finance Committee. He hopes the measure will be passed this year for the sake of Oklahoma 's elderly and poorer families.

“Very few Oklahomans see their income rise 5-percent each year,” said Liebmann, R-Oklahoma City , “yet because our home values are skyrocketing, the taxes on those properties are increasing. Our senior citizens who live on fixed incomes and our low-income families are already struggling to make ends meet and simply can't afford to pay the taxes that come with the higher property value.”

The cap would mean property taxes would double every 24 years rather than the current rate of every 15 years.

The bill would also prevent senior citizens' homes from increasing in value for as long as they live in their home by exempting persons aged 65 or older, regardless of income, from paying increased taxes because the fair cash value of their home has increased.

Liebmann noted that the cap would not reduce the actual tax base of local municipalities; rather it would restrain potential growth.

“The home values are increasing every year anyway,” said Liebmann.

“Instead of a 5-percent growth in revenue for the local governments, it will be 3-percent. But there will be no reduction in revenue.” 

The bill passed in the House Rules Committee and now moves to the House floor for consideration.