(MADISON) Today, Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) released a draft bill that will provide a medical hardship exemption for property taxpayers medically incapacitated at the time their property taxes were due. The Toba Kramer Medical Hardship Exemption Act is named for Toba Kramer, a homeowner in Shorewood, WI and Senator Taylor’s constituent. Despite her medical aliments, current law had no remedy for Ms. Kramer when she missed her property tax payments earlier this year. This bill addresses Ms. Kramer’s situation which has been experienced by citizens throughout the state.
Ms. Kramer is an 86 year old who has owned her home in Shorewood for 47 years. In early January, she was hospitalized and became unresponsive after suffering a severe setback during her recovery. By the time she was cognizant, the deadline to pay her property tax installment had already passed. Despite her family’s quick effort to pay the installment, state law required that Ms. Kramer be labeled tax “delinquent” and that her installment plan be ended. Ms. Kramer must now pay the full year’s tax payment immediately while accruing daily penalties and interest. Current law’s inability to recognize Ms. Kramer’s medical incapacitation will now force hardships on a woman who has never before missed a property tax payment.
“Ms. Kramer’s situation is not unheard of in Wisconsin. I am proud to take action to allow a medical hardship exemption for my constituent and for people around the state in the same situation. There is no reason the state cannot act to remove the label “delinquent” from an upstanding citizen who has paid taxes all her life like Toba Kramer. This bill is a common sense reform with multiple safeguards to ensure this exemption is not abused.” Senator Taylor commented.
The bill will grant an individual an additional 60 days past the due date to pay a property tax installment if they adhere to the following conditions: documentation has been submitted from a medical provider that confirms incapacitation, the exemption has not been utilized previously, and the local governing body (i.e. city council, etc.) approves the extension. Furthermore, the individual will not be removed from the installment plan or subject to additional penalties if the installment plan payment is received within the 60 day window. With such protections, the state can ensure property taxes are collected while being flexible with homeowners who are unable to pay through no fault of their own.
Jane Kramer, daughter of Toba Kramer commented, "My mother has paid her taxes on time for 46 years so we were shocked when she was so harshly penalized for missing a deadline due to being unresponsive and in the ICU. My family is delighted that Senator Taylor is sponsoring a bill that will ensure that other responsible citizens like my mother are not punished by the state at their most vulnerable moments. With the legislature's support no other Wisconsin family will have to deal with being labeled a tax "delinquent" while in the middle of managing a medical emergency."
Both the Kramer family and Senator Taylor are hopefully for swift action in the Legislature so that this exemption may be granted. The bill is circulating through the Legislature for cosponsors and will be formally introduced next week.