State Rep. Susan Williams Gifford supports tax exemptions for seniors
On Monday, July 30 the House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to a bill which would allow towns to establish a property tax exemption program for senior citizens with the support State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham).
The legislation, known as House Bill 4001, was engrossed with a unanimous vote of 150-0.
House Bill 4001 is modeled after tax relief programs offered in communities such as Reading, Sudbury and Wayland designed to help older residents living on fixed incomes remain in their homes.
“Managing household expenses can be a daunting task for anyone especially when taxes and insurance continue to rise," Gifford said. “If you are a Senior living on a fixed income, those concerns are even greater."
Under the bill's local option proposal, communities would be able to offer property tax relief to qualifying seniors based in part on the amount of the tax credit they were eligible to receive in the previous year under the state’s Senior Circuit Breaker program. The actual amount of the tax exemption would be set annually by the community's local government.
Gifford expressed hope that House Bill 4001 would help alleviate the concerns of qualifying seniors struggling to make ends meet.
House Bill 4001 sets specific guidelines for applicants. Participation is limited to homeowners who have resided in their community for at least 10 consecutive years and are age 65 or older.
If a tax exemption request is filed jointly, the second applicant must be age 60 or older and at least one of the applicants must meet the minimum residency requirement of 10 consecutive years.
Seniors must file annually to receive this tax exemption and are subject to approval by the local Board of Assessors. The Board may deny an exemption if it is determined that the applicant has excessive assets.
House Bill 4001 also contains provisions sun-setting the tax exemption after three years. Communities that adopt the local option would be required to vote every three-years to reauthorize the program.
House Bill 4001 will now head to the Senate for further action.