Loose Lips

Mendelson Budget Leaves Bonds, Gray Steamed

In 2013, it was hard to think of an idea more popular with the D.C. Council than Anita Bonds' property tax bill. The legislation, which exempted some senior citizens from property taxes, came as multiple councilmembers ran for re-election or for the mayor's office, then got another boost when a Washington Post investigation found elderly homeowners losing their property in tax sales. Plus, who's going to say no to old folks?

But now, Bonds says it was all for nothing. In a press release yesterday, Bonds claims that D.C. Council Chairman's Phil Mendelson Budget Support Act, set for a Council vote this morning, "effectively repealed" her legislation.

Under Bonds' bill, the Office of Tax and Revenue would just zero out the property taxes for homeowners 70 years old or older who fall under certain income thresholds and have had their homes for 20 years or more. In the Budget Support Act, though, elderly homeowners 70 years or older who qualify would still have to pay property taxes and then apply for a tax refund, according to Bonds' office. Anyone 75 years or older would receive a deferment on their property taxes, which would be held off until the house leaves their family.

"It seems like it's the same thing, but in actuality it's very, very different from what the Council planned to do for seniors," says Bonds spokesman Jermaine House.

Vince Gray's administration isn't happy with the change, either. Continuing a beef the executive branch has had with Mendelson's budgeting since he stripped hundreds of millions of dollars out of streetcar funding, Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro says that Mendelson is taking tax breaks away from the elderly to fund his other tax cuts.

“It’s beyond the optics," says Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro. "It’s not a morally right thing to do."

Mendelson says he's happy to resolve Bonds' issues with how the taxes are paid—or not paid, depending on how things shake out. As for Gray, Mendelson thinks the administration is just looking for another thing to criticize his budget for.

“I appreciate that folks in the administration have been quite consistent over the last several weeks with complaining about every aspect of the budget that they can complain of," Mendelson says.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Reside in Shaw

    Some critical errors in the property tax office. My address number was transposed and I was removed from the Homestead deduction. An appeal was granted, however, the tax office issued a bill to my mortgage company of over $6,000; which caused my monthly payment increased $800. I am now in the process of drafting letters to all those councilmembers to return those funds. A word from the wise, stay on top of that property tax office, they will take your money , but we as citizens catch a whole lot of hell and misery getting their mistakes corrected. TRUST ME !

  • DCCommish

    Here we go again with Mendo! He's been the worst Chairman in DC history. How do take a $400+ million dollars surplus and deny the seniors who have stuck in there during the worst of times in DC pass this bill and then pull it out from under our oldest and wisest residents. Bonds made the huge effort with well thought out plans and now Mendo kills it! Medno Shame Shame! We need shaming campaign for Mendo now!

  • DCCommish

    Here we go again with Mendo! He's been the worst Chairman in Dc history. How do take a 400 million dollars surplus and deny the seniors who have stuck in there during the worst of times in Dc and now pass this bill and then pull it out from under our oldest and wisest residents. Medno Shame Shame! We need shaming campaign for Mendo now!

  • Tight Lips

    Gentrification at its finest hour. Apply the pressure to the senior citizens so that new residents can buy the properties and flip them, thus making DC more attractive and more expensive..

  • DCShadyBoots

    In short, Mendelson and the Council, to include Bowser and Catania, are telling seniors in the District to go to hell.

    Vincent Gray should run as a write in candidate. Her royal heinous Queen Machen is the worst.

  • Daddy Grace Fish Sandwich

    Phil Mendelson is a liberal left wing idiot. However, the majority of voters voted for this troll. Linda W. Cropp should have stay in the Chairwoman's Council seat, until a good candidate was found. I agree, DCCommish, Mendelson is the worst Council Chairman in the history of DC Home Rule. The man is an idiot like Muriel Bowser.

  • VP

    Tight Lips, you are absolutely correct. This is a true indication of how people are going to be treated when the District elects a white mayor. I just threw my support behind Bowser......good grief, this means I'm desperate.

  • Corky

    It is beyond comprehension how any of these fools stay in office. Something is seriously wrong with our government that thinks taxing gym memberships and throwing senior citizens under the bus are good policies. See how they act after the primaries are over!? Back to "we don't give a damn about what you voters think."

  • Chatham

    Let's see...if you're a senior living in a $1 million house, you're DC property tax is ~$330 a month. Someone making ~$50,000 after retirement...if it was coming from financial instruments giving a 7% annual return, than we're talking about a $714,000 investment. So yes, this seems to be a bunch of hand-wringing over the concern that retired multi-millionaires won't be able to afford a few hundred dollars in property taxes a month.

  • Tight Lips

    The sad truth, voters selected Bowser just to spite Gray, but why pick Bowser if you don't want to support her against Catania?

    This was clearly a set-up and we fell for it. Now people are talking about they do not like Bowser as much and may vote for Catania smh....

    One way or another, our days are numbered....

  • DCCommish

    What a idiot you are Catham. Read the bill it has income limits. Please millionare retirees in DC??? are you kididng me where are you taking about Chevey Chase, GTown. Furthermore you surely cannot add at all. $1million house has a taxburden of $8500 a year making that $708 a month. And if you can find me a 7% return after taxes on any financial investment I'll take it! So stop being stupid! The Median income for over 65 residents in 20001 which is a good mix of income levels for DC is only $20,993. so I think that these senoirs need to get to the polls and VOTE MENDO OUT! So you see Chatham you need to do you homework before you open that big dumb trap of yours! STUPID!

  • Chatham

    “$1million house has a taxburden of $8500 a year making that $708 a month”

    Except you forgot the homestead exemption (-$70k of the value) and the senior citizen exemption (cuts the tax in half). Since you’re the numbers wiz, mind telling me what 0.425% (property tax for seniors) of $930,000 ($1 million minus $70k, if you’re having trouble following along) is? That’s right! About $330.

    “Furthermore you surely cannot add at all.”

    Ah, the irony.

    “ And if you can find me a 7% return after taxes on any financial investment I'll take it! So stop being stupid!”

    I was being generous. If we assume 3.5% return that’s bringing in $50k a year, then we’re talking about a $1,428,571 investment. Add to that other investments (stocks that haven’t been cashed in) and a million dollar house, and yeah, we’re talking about tax cuts for multi-millionaires.

    Oh, and seniors in DC can already defer their property taxes if they can’t pay them. But at the moment, the city gets that money back when the property is sold; this just gives more money away to the people that inherit it.

  • bdaneker@hotmail.com

    Ok your right I forgot about the 50% deduction...but again your still an idiot. most people don't live in a $1million house in DC and they don't get the deduction if thier income was above $100k. As for the investment income what you assume is all unrealized gains. You have to have relized income to pay your bills while the mdian income for over 65 in 20001 is less than $21k. And let's not forget they still have income taxes to pay. So stop being a douche and look at the avg person not some richie in CC or Gtown. Look at masses not the asses!

  • Chatham

    “most people don't live in a $1 million house in DC”

    Alright…so we’re worried about the seniors in $500,000 houses that have to pay $150 a month in property taxes? Or the people who own $300,000 condos that have to pay a shocking…$82 a month!

    “As for the investment income what you assume is all unrealized gains. You have to have relized income to pay your bills“

    The $60,000 is based on adjusted gross income. If you’re adjusted gross income is $50k, that’s not based on unrealized gains.

    “while the mdian income for over 65 in 20001 is less than $21k.”

    Great, so we agree that capping it at $60k is way too high and a giveaway to wealthy individuals who both own property and are making almost three times that median?

    And again, seniors already have the option to defer the low taxes they have for decades (in all likelihood for the rest of their lives). The cap is for retirees that are still pulling in $60k a year, the property taxes that are supposedly so difficult for them are $330 a month for a million dollar home and $150 a month for a $500,000 home, $82 a month for a $300,000 home, and they don’t have to even pay that at the moment – they can just defer it if they choose. Seniors who are renting, you think they have the same option? Yes, this is a giveaway to the wealthy, and one only needs to look at the numbers to see it.

  • cminus

    @DCShadyBoots, Vincent Gray actually opposed this when Bonds proposed it. And frankly, he was right to do so. Bonds' bill came in response to a real problem, but it provides most of its benefits to people who don't need the help.

    I'm hoping we can get a better-planned version of this bill in the future, but considering Muriel Bowser absolutely loved the original proposal (since it was a massive giveaway to her base), I'm not optimistic.

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  • SayWhat

    This exactly an effort to move more Blacks and minorities from this city and a vote for David Cataina will ensure that it happens.

  • HateBullys

    Mendelson is a quiet Bully and Catania is a loudmouth, irritating Bully both who prey upon the weak and individuals who can not stand up against them. It is reprehensible that Mendelson would deny Seniors who have lived and remained in the City through its roughest times the opportunity to enjoy the City's renaissance by eliminating the tax exemption. This could force many Seniors who have raised their families in the City to move out of the City because they can no longer afford to stay. This is what Bullies do. MENDELSON NEEDS TO GO AND THE SENIORS SHOULD HELP VOTE HIM OUT! TAKE CATANIA WITH YOU!

  • DCShadyBoots

    It is because of David Catania that we still have a hospital of the river. Just saying.

  • Tears

    I thank Ms. Barnes for trying to look our for seniors. Help for these sector of people is needed and overdue. It is disgraceful to allow these people to fall further. These senior who been casted aside are the same people who voted and supported many of the Council members. Home rule, as an native washingtonian, I say hog wash. What congress need to do is take there money from D.C. and let D.C. finance itself. What do you thank will happened?

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