HARTFORD, CT — The legislature’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee is expected to hear hours of public testimony today on a controversial proposal from Senate President Martin Looney to impose a statewide property tax on property assessed at $300,000 or more.
Looney, D-New Haven, has said it’s fair to call it a “mansion tax,” but Republicans have said it’s a tax on the middle class and will drive more people to move out of state.
“The only positive thing about the property tax — which most people find regressive and burdensome because it’s not tied to income or capacity to pay, it’s just tied to homeownership — it’s that at least it’s a reliable source of revenue,” Looney has said.
Looney wants to increase the property tax by one mill on every piece of property valued at $430,000 or more. That translates to about $50 per year on a $500,000 home or $400 on a million-dollar home. His proposal would distribute the money back to struggling cities and towns to help make up for millions in tax losses for having hospitals, universities and other non-taxable entities within their borders.
Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday that he doesn’t support such a tax.
“I don’t think an additional tax is necessary at this point,” Lamont said Monday at an unrelated event in Bridgeport.
For days, Republicans have been sending emails to constituents asking them to testify against the proposal.
“By no means are these mansions. These are middle-class homes in all 169 communities,” Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly has said.
He said a redistribution of wealth would have a negative effect.
“It’s going to start sucking revenue and wealth out of our communities and taking it up to Hartford as if Hartford has been a good steward,” Kelly said.
Most of the testimony submitted to the committee as of Sunday night has been in opposition to the tax.
Joseph O’Connell of Westport wrote that he owns a home, a small commercial property and a rental property.
“A statewide property tax will be the “last straw” for me and if passed, I’ll be moving to Florida and taking the jobs I provide with me,” O’Connell wrote. “I have two tenants who already have leases and I cannot pass any additional property taxes onto them. Adding additional property tax to commercial property in our state is near insanity as we already have so much vacant commercial property in our town that the zoning laws have been changed in an effort to attract tenants.”
O’Connell said the bill would devalue property and discourage business from investing.
Melissa Brett, owner of Welden Hardware & Brett Properties in Simsbury, said the tax would hurt not only residential homeowners, but businesses.
“This tax would be a tremendous burden on every property owner across the state. In the midst of so many businesses shutting down due to COVID-19, proposing such a tax on commercial property will just increase vacant spaces, as well as force us commercial landlords to increase monthly rents to offset this huge liability,” Brett said in written testimony.
“In the private sector, we have had to tighten our budgets not knowing what the economic future will hold, and adding yet another tax burden on us is not what Connecticut needs to stay competitive,” Brett added.
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on YouTube