All assessments are fixed for the upcoming tax year by April 1st of each year. In Cumberland, as for most municipalities, the fiscal year begins July 1st and ends June 30th. The tax bills that are issued in late-July cover the July 1st through June 30th period. The Town bills semi-annually with the 1st half due in mid-September and the 2nd half due in mid-March.
The April 1st date is significant for a number of reasons.
- All business owner must declare the personal property (machinery, computer equipment and office furniture and fixtures including signs) in their business as of April 1st.
- Ownership of real estate and personal property is fixed as of April 1st each year.
- Property values are set as of April 1st of each year meaning that the condition of any improvements are set as of April 1st. Buildings that are under construction are taxed based on the completion as of April 1st. Conversely, any buildings that are demolished, removed, or damaged after April 1st are taxed as of the condition as of April 1st.
- Exemption applications must be received in the Assessor's office prior to April 1st in order to be applicable for the upcoming fiscal year. You only have to apply for an exemption once!
- Homestead Exemption is for residents that have owned their homestead for 12 months prior to the year of application. The homestead exemption has been increased for 2020 to a $25,000.00 reduction in property value ($496.25 tax savings per homestead based on last year’s tax rate). Once you have applied, the exemption will remain unless you no longer occupy the property as your primary residence.
- Veteran's Exemption is for a veteran, or widow of a veteran who served during a federally recognized war period and is 62 years or older; or, is receiving 100% disability as a Veteran; or, became 100% disabled while in the service. Currently, the veteran's exemption amounts to a $6,000.00 reduction in assessed value ($119.10 tax savings).
- Blind Exemption is an exemption available for property owners determined to be legally blind which is currently a $4,000.00 reduction in value ($79.40 tax savings).
- Renewable Energy Investment Exemption is new this year. The program exempts non-commercial renewable energy equipment, such as solar panels, from property tax beginning April 1, 2020. The Tax Assessor will be contacting property owners that currently have solar installations and applications will be given out at the time building permits are obtained going forward.
January through March, property inspections are conducted to review new projects permitted through the Code Enforcement/Planning departments and to review projects not completed prior to the previous April 1st deadline. Due to the volume of inspections it is not possible to contact property owners prior to inspections. Inspections for new construction are conducted with the Code Officer during occupancy inspections when possible.
If property is sold after April 1st, the property tax is the responsibility of the owner as of April 1st for the fiscal year. Although taxes are normally prorated at the time of closing with both the buyer and seller required to pay their respective share of the tax, it is important to make sure that the tax bill is forwarded to the new owner and that the entire tax has been paid for the applicable tax year. If the tax is not paid in full, a tax lien may be placed on the property in the name of the owner of record as of April 1st which may have a negative effect on the credit rating of the seller, and if not paid in full, could lead to foreclosure.
Any person that is eligible or may be eligible for exemptions may obtain an application at the Town Office or through the Town Website. Taxpayers having questions may contact the Assessor, John Brushwein at 829-2204 or by email at email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why does the old owner's name appear on my tax bill?
The statutory assessment date in Maine is April 1st. The Assessor's Office must retain this ownership information for the entire fiscal year that follows. If you purchased your property after April 1st, the previous owner's name remains on the tax bill. Every effort is made to forward tax bills to the new owner. However, if you have not received a tax bill by October 1st you should contact the Tax Collector's Office at 207-829-5559.
- Why won't the Town send my tax bill directly to my bank or mortgage company?
The Assessor's billing address information is used by all Town departments for official notification of zoning changes, appeals and other items of significance to property owners. In addition, since mortgages are regularly bought and sold, this would increase the chance for a bill being sent to the incorrect party, delaying payment and incurring interest charges. If your property taxes are held in escrow, simply send a copy of the bill to the mortgage company when you receive it, retaining a copy for your records.
- I applied for an exemption on my property, but it didn't show up on my bill. Why is that?
Any application for exemption (veteran, veteran widow, blind or homestead) must be received by April 1 for the upcoming fiscal year. If you filed after April 1, the exemption will not be applied until the following fiscal year.