BOSTON – Today, the State Senate passed an omnibus property tax relief bill S2124 – An Act improving real property tax abatements, application deadlines, and deferrals. This bill improves the property tax deferral program for active military personnel, senior citizens and for persons who are deaf.
O’Connor Ives filed a bill for an Amesbury resident that would allow municipalities by local option, to adopt a local property tax abatement for residents who are deaf. This option would be comparable to the property tax abatement options which currently exist under state law for homeowners in a city or town who are blind. Currently, anyone legally blind can apply for tax relief at the local level. Identical standards were unanimously passed in today’s tax relief bill for residents who are deaf. It provides an exemption of $5,000 of taxable valuation or $437.50 of actual taxed due, whichever is greater, or; provides an exemption of $500 of actual taxes due.
“This bill offers tax relief for senior citizens and military personnel as well as addressing an oversight that was brought to my attention by a constituent that would allow municipalities to adopt a tax exemption for deaf residents,” said State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives.
S2124 creates a new section to allow towns to establish a program by local option for Veterans to receive property tax deductions in exchange for volunteer community services. The maximum creditable amount is 175 hours of the current minimum wage in Massachusetts. A Veteran who is physically unable to perform services may appoint an approved surrogate to perform the community service in exchange for property tax deductions The bill also increases the maximum amount of money that veterans can reduce their property tax through volunteer work from $1000 to $1500 in towns that have chosen to participate in the program and includes a provision that requires the Department of Veterans’ Services, in conjunction with the Department of Revenue, to provide an analysis of implementing a sliding scale property tax abatement for veterans and spouses. It also allows a city or town through local option to establish an interest rate on deferred taxes to less than 16% that would apply if an active military personnel passes away or the property is sold as well as authorizes a city or town through local option to extend the lower interest rate of 8% on deferred taxes for at least one year after the death of active military personnel who were participating in a tax deferral agreement.
S2124 improves the property tax deferral program for senior citizens by offering property tax relief to homeowners age 65 or older by amending the alternative income limit tied to the senior circuit breaker limit and raising the maximum that cities and towns could set through local option up to $80,000. As well as similarly allows a city or town through local option to establish an interest rate on deferred taxes to less than 16% that would apply once the senior passes away or the property is sold.
In further examining the feasibility of establishing property tax deductions for any person providing full-time at-home care to an individual 22 years and older with intellectual or developmental disabilities and reviewing and evaluating all property tax laws and the impact of those laws on local governments, residents and businesses by establishing 2 commissions that will report back to the legislature with recommendations.
The bill now moves to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for their consideration.