Bill gives cities and towns more options to adjust property taxes for seniors, veterans and the disabled

BOSTON — Today the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation allowing cities and towns to provide property tax breaks for low-income seniors, veterans and the disabled.

“Property taxes can be a large burden for those already have tight finances. This will allow more flexibility to cities and towns, to offer property tax relief to those who need it most, from senior citizens to veterans and the disabled,” said Senator Eric Lesser.

The legislative package allows a city or town to expand the existing property tax deferral for senior citizens and for active military personnel. It includes the option to extend the time for paying back interest on deferred taxes, and enables a city or town to reduce the interest rate on deferred taxes to less than 16 percent of what would apply once the active military personnel or senior passes away or the property is sold.

The bill also increases the tax credit for veterans under the volunteer service property tax reduction program from $1,000 to $1,500.

“A society is judged on how we treat our most vulnerable. Today’s legislation reduces the tax burden on our low-income seniors, the disabled, and our military service personnel,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg. “The Senate continues to look for ways to help those in need while balancing the needs of local communities to provide services to our residents.”

“Thank you to my fellow colleagues and staff who worked to piece this legislation together. This bill gives the cities and towns of our Commonwealth the opportunity to aid our senior citizens and military personal by developing existing property tax deferrals for them. This legislation provides the tax breaks and relief for those in need, most importantly our veterans, low-income seniors and the disabled,” said Sen. Michael Brady of Brockton, who sponsored the bill. “I am proud of the work our legislature has done on their behalf.”

The bill also creates two new local option real property tax exemptions for deaf individuals by providing an exemption of $5,000 of taxable valuation or $437.50 of actual taxes due, whichever is greater. In addition, the bill extends the foreclosure grace period from the current six-month window to a one-year window.

Finally, the bill improves the application deadlines for agricultural, horticultural, or recreational land.  Currently, the reporting deadline for chapter land applications to apply to have land valued, assessed and taxed as agricultural, forest or recreational land is October 1, which burdens farmers during the harvest season with paperwork that could be done at a later date. This bill moves the deadline to December 1 and amends and aligns the appeals deadlines.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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