A Property Tax Circuit Breaker is a tax refund in the United States given to low income individuals and families whose property tax liability is a large percentage of their yearly income. The term was coined by John Shannon of the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations in the 1960s. There are currently 18 states who use a wide scope of programs to relieve the property tax burden for low income individuals and families. Just as an electrical circuit breaker will prevent an electric circuit from being overloaded with energy, these programs prevent low income households from being overloaded with tax burden. Like all tax refunds, these programs require low income households to pay the entire property tax up-front then a credit or refund is given during the income tax processing. A popular feature of the property tax circuit breaker is that rather than limiting the amount of money someone pays in property taxes, relief is given after the property taxes are paid. This is done so that the locality who is in charge of levying the taxes and utilizing the revenue does not see a decrease in revenue from property taxes, rather the state government passes down relief for those property taxes that are paid.
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