Hello Valley Patriot Readers,
As a member of the Legislature’s Elder Affairs Committee, one of my top focuses this session is assessing bills filed that impact our older adults. Among these pieces of legislation is an important bill I have co-sponsored, Senate Bill 1823, An Act relative to property tax deferral for estates.
All too many older adults, in the Merrimack Valley and across Massachusetts, face being forced out of their homes due to increasing property values that result in unaffordable tax bills.
Seniors who own their homes and are determined to remain in them often struggle to make ends meet as time goes by, faced with a harrowing decision over whether they can afford food, prescription drugs or heat, in addition to a property tax bill.
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The Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Boston calculates for each U.S. state the Elder Economic Insecurity Rate, which is the percentage of couples and single individuals with income below the level required to cover basic living expenses. The most recent report found that about 60 percent of older single adults in Massachusetts had incomes below the Elder Index target – a ranking of 49th among all 50 states, above only Mississippi.
For older adult couples, Massachusetts ranked 41st.
Why does Massachusetts, with one of the highest median incomes in the nation, rank so terribly?
The answer is, in large part, the cost of housing and a huge component of this cost is the property tax.
While Massachusetts does provide some relief, through the Circuit Breaker Tax Credit, which is administered at the state level, and the Senior Property Tax Exemption, which is administered by local governments, our older adults sorely need additional resources.
This legislation would reduce the property tax burden on both senior citizens and their heirs. It reforms the payment schedule on the Property Tax Deferral Program to offer a one-year grace period of lower interest rates for a deceased person’s family to settle an estate, as well as for veterans and their families. The bill also provides town assessors with greater discretion in granting hardship exemptions to those struggling to keep up with their property taxes.
It is imperative that we do all we can to provide seniors with the resources needed to remain in their homes and maintain economic security.
I wholeheartedly support this bill and am committed to advocating for its passage during the legislative session.
If you have any questions on this or any other piece of legislation, please feel free to contact me anytime via email at Diana.Dizoglio@masenate.gov or phone at 978-984-7747.
Yours in service,