Property Tax Law Book - Constitution

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CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF MAINE
Selected Sections

 

Article I

Declaration of Rights

            Section 22.  Taxes.  No tax or duty shall be imposed without the consent of the people or of their representatives in the Legislature.

 

Article III.

Distribution of Powers.

            Section 1.  Powers distributed.  The powers of this government shall be divided into 3 distinct departments, the legislative, executive and judicial.

            Section 2.  To be kept separate.  No person or persons, belonging to one of these departments, shall exercise any of the powers properly belonging to either of the others, except in the cases herein expressly directed or permitted.

 

Article IV
Part Third
Legislative Power

            Section 9.  Either House may originate bills; revenue bills.  Bills, orders or resolutions, may originate in either House, and may be altered, amended or rejected in the other; but all bills for raising a revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose amendments as in other cases; provided, that they shall not, under color of amendment, introduce any new matter, which does not relate to raising a revenue.

            Section 23.  Municipalities reimbursed annually. The Legislature shall annually reimburse each municipality from state tax sources for not less than 50% of the property tax revenue loss suffered by that municipality during the previous calendar year because of the statutory property tax exemptions or credits enacted after April 1, 1978.  The Legislature shall enact appropriate legislation to carry out the intent of this section.

            This section shall allow, but not require, reimbursement for statutory property tax exemptions or credits for unextracted minerals.

 

Article IX
General Provisions

            Section 7.  Valuation.  While the public expenses shall be assessed on estates, a general valuation shall be taken at least once in 10 years.
            Section 8. Taxation. All taxes upon real and personal estate, assessed by authority of this State, shall be apportioned and assessed equally according to the just value thereof.

            1. Intangible property. The Legislature shall have power to levy a tax upon intangible personal property at such rate as it deems wise and equitable without regard to the rate applied to other classes of property.

2. Assessment of certain lands based on current use; penalty on change to higher use. The Legislature shall have power to provide for the assessment of the following types of real estate whenever situated in accordance with a valuation based upon the current use thereof and in accordance with such conditions as the Legislature may enact:

A. Farms and agricultural lands, timberlands and woodlands;

B. Open space lands which are used for recreation or the enjoyment of scenic natural beauty;

C. Lands used for game management or wildlife sanctuaries; and

D. Waterfront land that is used for or that supports commercial fishing activities.

In implementing paragraphs A, B, C and D, the Legislature shall provide that any change of use higher than those set forth in paragraphs A, B, C and D, except when the change is occasioned by a transfer resulting from the exercise or threatened exercise of the power of eminent domain, shall result in the imposition of a minimum penalty equal to the tax which would have been imposed over the 5 years preceding that change of use had that real estate been assessed at its highest and best use, less all taxes paid on that real estate over the preceding 5 years, and interest, upon such reasonable and equitable basis as the Legislature shall determine. Any statutory or constitutional penalty imposed as a result of a change of use, whether imposed before or after the approval of this subsection, shall be determined without regard to the presence of minerals, provided that, when payment of the penalty is made or demanded, whichever occurs first, there is in effect a state excise tax which applies or would apply to the mining of those minerals.

3. School districts. The Legislature shall have power to provide that taxes, which it may authorize a School Administrative District or a community school district to levy, may be assessed on real, personal and intangible property in accordance with any cost-sharing formula which it may authorize.
           
4. Watercraft. Beginning with the property tax year 1984, all watercraft as defined by the Legislature shall be exempt from taxation as personal property, provided that certain watercraft as defined by the Legislature shall be subject to an excise tax to be collected and retained by the municipalities.

5. Historic and scenic preservation. The Legislature shall have the power to provide that municipalities may reduce taxes on real property if the property owner agrees to maintain the property in accordance with criteria adopted by the governing legislative body of the municipality to maintain the historic integrity of important structures or to provide scenic view easements of significant vistas.

Section 9.  Power of taxation.  The Legislature shall never, in any manner, suspend or surrender the power of taxation.

Section 21.  State mandates.  For the purpose of more fairly apportioning the cost of government and providing local property tax relief, the State may not require a local unit of government to expand or modify that unit's activities so as to necessitate additional expenditures from local revenues unless the State provides annually 90% of the funding for these expenditures from State funds not previously appropriated to that local unit of government.  Legislation implementing this section or requiring a specific expenditure as an exception to this requirement may be enacted upon the vote of 2/3 of all members elected to each House.  This section must be liberally construed.